- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 16, 2011) — A Christian missionary and journalist, George Joseph Raudenbush, III, who was jailed on December 30, 2010 and released on February 18, 2011 on charges of “aggravated assault, resisting arrest, “frisk,” driving uninsured, speeding and failure to wear a seat belt” has a hearing in the Monroe County courthouse in Madisonville on Monday, April 18.
Mr. Raudenbush told The Post & Email of the conditions under which he was arrested and incarcerated in a telephone call from the Monroe County jail in January 2011.
Another missionary associated with the Appalachian Youth Missions told The Post & Email that “I went to the yard where the Little assault vehicle is being held. I inspected it to see what the conditions would be,for transporting it, after impound could be paid. Guess what! There is not even the smallest scratch or dent in the car. Pretty tough little escort to do such aggression and come out with not a scratch, or someone for whatever their reason is bogus in putting such charges on George (Raudenbush).”
Mr. Raudenbush has informed The Post & Email that the church vehicle which he was driving on the evening of December 30 is still impounded, and the fees for such have not yet been disclosed to him or the church but are compounding daily.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Our church vehicle is still in the impound yard. We’re in the process of having it released. I personally spoke with Brian Millsaps and the former police chief from Tellico who has resigned, Mr. Bill Isbell. I believe Tanya Norwood has been appointed as the new police chief. I spoke with Tanya, and she redirected me back to the officer who assaulted me, peace officer Brian Millsaps. When I spoke to officer Millsaps, he did not indicate that TPPD was holding the church vehicle as evidence. This is also confirmed between the new and old police chiefs. obviously TPPD is not holding the vehicle in the commission of a crime. Those are the only two ways that they can hold a vehicle. So it’s obvious they’re not following the procedure set forth in the state by the legislature.
MRS. RONDEAU: You had mentioned in a previous interview that Brian Millsaps has a history of abusing people in the community and that he was fired from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: That’s correct. I was informed that Brian Millsaps was fired from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department about four years ago. I was told that he worked there for only about three or four months until an incident occurred. Brian Millsaps did not answer my question in the preliminary hearing when I questioned and cross-examined him. He actually denied being fired from the sheriff’s department, yet there are records; there is actually a pending lawsuit right now about his being fired during that time because it resulted in Brian Millsaps seriously injuring an individual who was involved in a car wreck. He actually used excessive force and inappropriate behavior against a person who was incapacitated from a auto wreck.
MRS. RONDEAU: And the victim was someone who was already injured in a car accident?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Yes. Brian Millsaps caused further injuries which could have resulted in death to this individual. I don’t know all the details, but it was explained to me by the person assaulted by Brian Millsaps that he was being treated by paramedics when Brian Millsaps came up and tasered him over and over. I understand also from the victim that he was beaten severely after he was pulled from a car wreck. The victim was already injured and Brian Millsaps actually came over and traumatized him further.
MRS. RONDEAU: Why do you think the Tellico Plains Police Department has held the church truck in impound since December 30?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: It’s a 1986 Ford Escort in excellent condition, or at least it was before the officer broke the driver’s side window that night. I believe, and it’s obvious to many other people as well, that the Tellico Plains Police Department has put a hold on the church vehicle to run up the bill for the storage and the towing fees. They want to cause as much intentional financial burden on the victim as possible because they know that they’ve done wrong, so now they’re trying to do everything to cause further harm and injury, not just to me, but also to the church and the church vehicle.
MRS. RONDEAU: When a vehicle is impounded, the fee accumulates by the day, correct?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: That’s correct. It has been three and one-half months.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you know what the rate per day is at the impound yard?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: I do not know what the rate is that Mr. Hamilton charges where the vehicle is located because I’ve not discussed it with him yet. We have not discussed the full bill yet pending the release of the church vehicle, so we really have no idea of the cost involved. I don’t know if Mr. Hamilton pro-rates by the month or two months; I believe he’s waiting until the TPPD gives the OK to release the vehicle to give us a bill.
We do know for sure that the Tellico Plains Police Department has ordered Mr. Hamilton not to release the vehicle. We have confirmation from every officer in the department on that with whom I’ve spoken, including two police chiefs and Brian Millsaps.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is there any reason why the vehicle should not be released?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Absolutely not. There is no reason why they should not release this vehicle. It’s not being held as evidence, and it is not being held in the commission of a crime. It’s obvious from the evidence that no crime was committed with the vehicle, so the TPPD would have no reason to hold it for that. It is obvious the main reason the TPPD has put a hold on the church vehicle is to cover up the fact that the church vehicle was not used in a commission of a crime.
MRS. RONDEAU: Will the church have to pay the impound fee ultimately?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Yes, the church will have to pay the fee, and in addition to that, whatever charges for towing and the impound fee per day. We have no idea what that’s going to be, but each day that it stays there, the fee gets higher. The former Tellico Plains Police Chief, Mr. Bill Isbell, and the present police chief Tanya Norwood, both know this. All the officers know this as well. So this is an intentional act to defraud, harm and injure the church as well as the individual, who in this case was me as the Stewart of the vehicle. The TPPD has not volunteered to pay for the damages ,towing or storage of the church vehicle, it’s very clear that the individual who owns the vehicle has to pay for the vehicle. I’m just a steward of the vehicle, but I’m required to pay for it from the church. So the church essentially is going to pay for it. The bottom line is the TPPD doesnt want the public to know one of their officers committed a crime against a citizen.
MRS. RONDEAU: I’ve heard from others that there is a criminal enterprise set up to extort money from the people of the community. Would you say that this is an example of that, or is something else going on?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: This is definitely a very good example of how they use extortion to try to control people and at the same time, cause harm and injury to those individuals. This is a very good example.
MRS. RONDEAU: When is your next hearing?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: It’s on Monday, April 18. We want to get through court, get through this process, and have the truth come out and have justice served.
MRS. RONDEAU: Could you tell me what you had mentioned recently about obstruction of your evidence from the grand jury?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: When I was first falsely detained, I was waiting to go before the grand jury with our evidence, and the evidence would have had me released. If the grand jury could have seen the evidence, we strongly believe that I would have been released. So we waited until that time. When I was incarcerated, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department officials and those from the court and the district attorney’s office not only would not allow me to go before the grand jury, but they obstructed my motion and the evidence for the grand jury to see that Travis B. Jones, who is a high official with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, did, in fact, commit perjury and did it to cover up a crime committed by another officer from the Tellico Plains Police Department, Brian Millsaps.
MRS. RONDEAU: What kind of evidence do you have that you believe would have exonerated you the night of your arrest?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Officer Travis Jones filled out a criminal affidavit against me,on December 30. In that affidavit, he specifically stated that the church vehicle collided with his vehicle, and later stated in a preliminary hearing, the church vehicle struck his vehicle three times causing his vehicle engine to stop.
MRS. RONDEAU: Yes, I obtained the charge sheets from court clerk Martha M. Cook.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: I actually have his quote here verbatim from his criminal complaint against me. It says, “The vehicle then struck my police truck in the left side near the front, causing damage.” Later, at the preliminary hearing, which was on January 18, 2011, we have the actual recording from the courtroom where both Travis Jones and, I believe, Brian Millsaps, stated that they observed the church vehicle striking the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department truck three separate times; not only striking it, but also causing severe damage, and, in addition to that, causing the engine in the big police vehicle to stop.
Mr. Gary Church, who is one of the council members at the mission, actually went down on January 5, 2011, to Mr. Robert Hamilton’s part yard in Tellico Plains. Mr. Hamilton is the individual who has a wrecker service which tows vehicles for the city of Tellico Plains, and he holds them on his property, which is a parts yard, kind-of like a junkyard. That’s where the church vehicle was towed.
It’s important to note that this is a small four-cylinder 1986 Ford Escort, and Travis Jones is claiming the small church vehicle hit this big police truck which sets high off the road. There’s no way possible that the small and low to the ground Ford Escort could have hit this truck in the area that he stated in court and in his affidavit and caused damage. It would have been impossible for that to happen. Mr. Gary Church went and took pictures of the church vehicle and discovered that there wasn’t even a scratch on it, not even a dent.
So the statements made by both officers involved are false and perjurious. They’re claiming that the church vehicle had rammed the police vehicle, causing damage to that vehicle when in fact, it never did.
MRS. RONDEAU: So it’s a made-up story, as far as you’re concerned?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Absolutely. The evidence itself, regardless of my own statements, shows the facts. There was no damage to the police vehicle, and there was no damage to the church vehicle. So that means there was no collision.
MRS. RONDEAU: And the photos of the vehicle prove that?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Yes, absolutely; not just the photos of the vehicle, but the statements and testimony of individuals who have gone up there to look at the vehicle, including the individual who towed it. There was never any damage to the church vehicle.
MRS. RONDEAU: Other than when you said that Officer Millsaps broke the window?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: That’s correct, and the only damage there was to the window.
MRS. RONDEAU: What would have kept the Monroe County grand jury from seeing the evidence that you wanted to present to them?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: I think what kept the evidence from the grand jury were individuals who did not want the grand jury to get that evidence, because it would have directly incriminated three police officers: Travis B. Jones; Brian Millsaps, and there was an auxiliary officer there; I can’t recall her name right now. She was an auxiliary officer, and her testimony was identical to that of the Brian Millsaps report, word for word in her report.
Editor’s Note: The Affidavit of Complaint signed by April Shaffer dated December 31, 2010 reads as follows:
I further state under oath that the essential facts constituting the offense(s), the sources of my information and the reasons why this information is believable and reliable are as follows: On December 30, 2010, at approximately 10:43 PM, I initiated a traffic stop on State Route 68 on a blue Ford Escort, tag LUKE418, for doing 57MPH in a 45 MPH speed zone. Upon making contact with the driver, George Joseph Raudenbush 3rd, I asked him for his driver license and proof of insurance. At this time, I attempted to explain to Raudenbush why I stopped him. Raudenbush became uncooperative and fled the traffic stop. I proceeded to follow him with my blue flashing lights and audible siren activated. Raudenbush continued to travel on State Route 68 toward Coker Creek, still failing to stop. Lt. Travis Jones took the lead and I observed Raudenbush cross the center yellow line several times, still failing to stop. Raudenbush continued to travel on State Route 68 without stopping. During this time, Raudenbush attempted to ram my patrol car several times. I was in fear for my safety. I am charging Raudenbush with aggravated assault. This did happen in Tellico Plains, Monroe County, Tennessee.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: That’s it. If you look at Brian Millsap’s report it is identical to April Shaffer’s report its the same report duplicated and signed by April Shaffer. It doesn’t take an expert to see April Shaffer copied Brian Millsaps report doing what she was told to do as an Axillary officer.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is there a way you could still get this to the grand jury?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Gary Church and I just went before the grand jury on April 6. I was called by the clerk into the grand jury room, but Mr. Church was not. So when I was in the grand jury room, I had asked the grand jury – and I held up the complaints that we had signed with all of the attached evidence – “Did you all receive a copy of this with the attached evidence?” and they shook their heads “no.” So when I left the grand jury room and I went immediately over to the clerk’s desk, the clerk to whom I handed the information and evidence of a crime being committed said that she was going to make sure that the grand jury members got these complaints with the evidence. She said she had given it to them. So whether she gave it to the district attorney or an assistant district attorney…I don’t know who she gave it to, but the grand jury told me that they never received it.
MRS. RONDEAU: Whom do you think was telling the truth, or do you know?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: At this point, I believe the clerk was doing her job, and whomever she handed it to, it’s obvious to me, did not pass it to the grand jury, because the members of the grand jury would not have a reason to lie. However, somebody between the clerk and the grand jury would have a motive and could have a motive to not get that information to them. In addition to that, I believe that instruction was given to the grand jury before I went in to see them, because when I went in and held up pictures and documents and I said, “Would you each like a copy of these?” they just shook their heads “no.” I find that very unusual when a grand jury is supposed to investigate a matter that they had already made up their minds and decided that they didn’t need to see any of the evidence or information. Someone has influenced the jury panel in some way, shape or form with a pre-decision on this case. I firmly believe that from the response of the grand jury, and it’s not the grand jury’s fault. What’s has appeared to happen is that the grand jury has obviously listened to some authoritative figure in the courthouse, and the court has told them something. So that’s where we’re at.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Absolutely. Until citizens are willing to get educated, and not just by members of the court, but to go out there on the internet, to do research about jury nullification, the history of juries and jurors…until they’re willing to do that, they’re just going to do what they’re told. There’s a scripture that says, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge,” but it also says, “Study to show thyself approved.” We don’t have a lot of people today, registered voters who are called for jury duty, who are willing to take the time to find out what their rights and responsibilities are to the people of the United States, not to the officials. And that’s the issue we’re running into: that people are just lazy and they don’t want to study anymore. They don’t want to find out what their responsibilities are; they like being told what to do and following the direction of another individual, regardless of whether it’s right, wrong, indifferent or even true. They’re just going by what they’re told by the officials, and they’re not seeking to learn for themselves. It’s their civic duty, obviously, but many of the jurors I’ve spoken with have said the same thing: “I’ll just go in and they’ll tell me what to do,” and that’s it.
MRS. RONDEAU: I found out only within the last couple of years that juries could refuse to convict a defendant based on the fact that they think the law is unconstitutional. It seems that most judges and prosecutors don’t want to tell juries that.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Absolutely, unless it’s in a case of jury-steering where either the magistrate, the attorneys or folks in the district attorney’s office want to steer a trial. Then, yes, they will use jury nullification in those situations to get the verdict that they want. Jury-steering is completely illegal ,unlawful and very fraudulent.
MRS. RONDEAU: There could be a real lack of civics education, and some states do not even have grand juries.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: The grand jury is the fourth branch of government; it’s one of the most powerful branches of government in the American system. They are very, very powerful, but you have no rights unless you know what your rights are.
MRS. RONDEAU: Are you aware of the claims of jury-rigging with both the grand jury and trial juries in Monroe County, and do you believe that affected what happened to you?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Absolutely. When I was to file a criminal complaint before the grand jury on April 6, I was told specifically by the clerk that I would go before only a three-member panel. She clarified this twice to both Mr. Church and me and made it very clear that we were going to go before a three-member panel which would determine whether or not we would go before the grand jury. When I walked in there, Sharon, I was shocked. I did not go before a three-member panel. There were seven individuals in there, and one was brought in at the last minute off the street.
MRS. RONDEAU: Off the street?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: He walked in, he walked past me; he wasn’t in there for the entire session. He was brought in, I believe, specially for my case. There was one man who left before I went in to the jury panel, and I’m assuming that the other male individual who came in later replaced him. So yes, there is definitely rigging going on. As a matter of fact, there is hand-picked selection going on to get the results that they want. That was a confirmation; when I went before the jury panel and started showing the evidence that a crime had been committed, the jury panel didn’t even want to see any of the documents I had. They weren’t interested; they had already made up their minds and predetermined that they were not going to see any of the evidence or documents I had to present, before they saw me. It was so obvious.
Here’s something that is amazing: I spoke to an attorney locally about this, and he said, “George, you’re wasting your time.” I said, “What do you mean by that?” and he said, “This is not going to go before a grand jury. They’re not going to allow this to go before the grand jury because it implicates too many people.” And this was before I went in. Before I went in, he told me what would happen, and exactly what he predicted is what happened.
MRS. RONDEAU: How do they just pull someone in off the street to serve on a jury?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: I don’t believe that they pulled somebody off the street. What I believe is that individual was informed, instructed, and they brought him in; he was hand-picked. That’s what I believe happened.
You have to understand, Sharon, they have a lot to lose, and once you tell a lie, you have to put another lie on top of that, and that’s all this is: covering up one lie with another lie. The neat part about that is that after a while, those lies don’t stick anymore, and it all starts to fall apart. So this is a basic procedure that we’ve seen them do; they get people to come in; they give them information to steer them into the answers and the decisions that they’re looking for. These people are very deceptive, and they’re conspiring to continue to maintain that stronghold of power they have which is being fed by greed or other motivations for crimes they’ve committed. That’s really what we’re up against. We’re up against some really evil people.
MRS. RONDEAU: How long would you say that it’s been like this in Monroe County, or do you have any idea?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: I can report only what I’ve personally observed, but just looking at the conditions and hearing reports from other people, I would say this has been going on for at least 100 years by now. I have reports as far back as 100 years of this type of behavior going on. I don’t know anything past that, but reports I’ve been given indicate that it’s been like this for a long time. It actually was worse years ago.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you think with all of the reporting going on about the corruption there, any inroads have been made into cleansing Monroe County?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Absolutely, yes. There has been a lot of awareness and education arising in the community, and many people are now aware of what’s going on. However, there’s a fear factor there for retaliation. I think now that people are learning about this – it’s coming out in the open and not hidden in the dark anymore – people are talking about it and getting educated about it. And more and more people are coming together saying, “This is ridiculous. This should not be going on.” And because this awareness has been created, we’re seeing more and more people who have lived here all their lives saying, “We have been waiting so long for somebody to stand up and to tell our story, because if we tried to tell it, the repercussions would not only be life-threatening, but in some instances, fatal.” So I really believe that a great work is being done here, and there is a huge awareness being created in the community right now. People are starting to say, “Hey, it’s not in the dark anymore; now it’s out in the light.”
MRS. RONDEAU: Now that it’s out in the open, what can citizens do or continue to do to press for clean government in Monroe County?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Now local residents, people born and raised here all their lives have reassurance that there are other people out there, and they have hope now – without hope, you have nothing – they can start networking with other people in other groups and organizations and churches and say, “Hey, we’ve got a real problem in our community, and that problem starts with drugs.” The whole drug business is huge. For the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department to say, “We don’t promote drugs” – Monroe County is the number one county in Tennessee for drug related arrests and Tennessee is the number one state out of the whole country for meth arrests – I would say their priorities are pretty mixed-up. They definitely don’t have a war on drugs; they’re definitely are not combating drugs; and they’re definitely not interested in stopping the drug trade, because if they were, they could do it in one day.
MRS. RONDEAU: The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department says that it’s cleaning up meth and has all these education programs to help people with addiction and arrest all of the drug dealers…are you saying they’re not really doing that?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: No. On Bill Bivens’s website, it says “Not on our turf.” I’ve spoken to many of these drug dealers and users since my incarceration, and this is what they’ve told me: They said that the sheriffs website, when it says “Not on our turf,” what the sheriff is saying is that you don’t bring drugs on his turf or sell drugs on his turf, because “this is my turf; if you buy, you buy from me.” In other words, you can’t be a producer of meth or other drugs in Monroe County because the production is controlled.
MRS. RONDEAU: So are certain dealers “approved” and others not?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Well, I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of it, but what I’m perceiving from these individuals who have been incarcerated is that they go in and out; it’s like a revolving door. They let them go. There were guys in there who had pounds of product, and they come in there, and they let them go. They go before the judge and they get turned loose. The fact is that the sheriffs department is making money. But what I got from these individuals is that the sheriff is involved in the drug business, and he doesn’t want anybody infringing on that business. In other words, if you come in and make meth in Monroe County, you’re taking money out of the sheriff’s pocket because in his distribution, he’s selling it and he’s involved in it, directly and indirectly. By someone else coming in and setting up a meth lab, it cuts into his business. That’s what I’ve been hearing. That’s pretty crazy.
MRS. RONDEAU: Have you heard that Sheriff Bivens is dealing, producing, or both?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: I’ve heard that he controls the drug operation in Monroe County; he controls everything.
MRS. RONDEAU: So he may not be mixing it in his basement, but he is like an overseer?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Right. He’s absolutely in control. That’s what I’ve been hearing from guys on the street, these guys that have been setting up their own drug labs and trying to produce it. Here’s the thing: the average habit is $60,000/year. How many of these users are making $60,000? They’re not. So they’re having to go out and steal, beg and borrow. That’s why crime goes up: because the person who controls the price and the product is the person who’s profiting. And that person is creating crime. So what happens is that the people who are hooked on it know that they can’t afford a $60,000/year habit, so they know that they’re going to try to manufacture it. So when they do that, those controlling it have them arrested; they take them through the court system and the Sheriff’s Department, and they’re making money off of these individuals whether they buy it through the controller over Monroe County or whether they go to making it themselves. Either way, the person who runs the whole drug business in Monroe County makes money off its residents, often victims of organized crime.
MRS. RONDEAU: I’ve heard the Sheriff Bill Bivens is dirty, but I’ve never heard it stated quite this way: that he has his finger on the pulse of the drug business.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: There is only one person in Monroe County who controls all the drug trade.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is that Bill Bivens?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: We don’t know if he’s the top man, but we do know from the testimony and statements I’ve gotten from different people and witnesses, they definitely implicate him as being part of that organization. Where he places in that organization we don’t know. I’ve never had anybody come to me and tell me that he’s the second-highest man, for example.
MRS. RONDEAU: Is it possible that he’s the county guy, and someone is over him on a regional or state level?
MR. RAUDENBUSH: Oh, yes, absolutely. The FBI will tell you that the drug trade is very organized. That’s why they call it organized crime. There is an act passed called the RICO Act to address organized crime.
MRS. RONDEAU: Do you think that the FBI in Knoxville is looking into all of these allegations of wrongdoing against Marty Cook, the chief court clerk; the grand jury rigging, the trial jury rigging; the crooked judges…? We all know that it’s been reported to them many times.
MR. RAUDENBUSH: I don’t see evidence of that, but that’s typical in any investigation. What I do believe is that they are receiving complaints, lots of them, to give them the authority to investigate this, but I also believe that they’re being very careful, because we don’t know, and they don’t know, who’s involved in it. It could be higher-up people; it could be people in their offices. So I believe that they have to be very careful and cautious, because you’re talking about a trade which generates not millions, but billions of dollars every year into the pockets of a very few greedy individuals involved in criminal behavior. Some of these people are in high places. So it’s my belief that these individuals have to be very careful because they don’t know who’s involved. I’ve researched cases which the FBI has handled which have taken years and millions of dollars spent in trying to break down one of these organized crime rings. The state of Tennessee has been a model for criminal activity and how organized crime is carried out for all other states to model after in the country. I don’t know if your readers are aware of that, but it’s documented in many political studies throughout the United States. Tennessee has been the leading state to model criminal behavior and corruption.
Tags: 1986 Ford Escort, Appalachian Youth Missions, April Shaffer, Gary Church, George Raudenbush III, Martha M. Cook, Monroe County Grand Jury, Monroe County Sheriff's Department, Peace Officer Brian Millsaps, police brutality, Tanya Norwood, Tellico Plains