Breaking: Fitzpatrick Convicted on Two Felonies

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by Sharon Rondeau

McMinn County, TN was the scene of “The Battle of Athens” in 1946, which expelled a corrupt sheriff and his deputies from the county after a brief gun battle

(Jun. 24, 2014) — On Tuesday afternoon, a jury in the case of State of Tennessee v. Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, 14-CR-69, convicted the defendant of aggravated perjury and extortion for attempting to submit a petition to the McMinn County grand jury in March.

He was acquitted on a charge of “harassment,” and on Monday evening, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood threw out the charge of “stalking.”

Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III discovered corruption in the Tennessee courts in late 2009 when he attempted to submit a petition to the Monroe County grand jury.

Monroe, McMinn, Polk and Bradley Counties comprise the Tenth Judicial District, which prosecuted the case.

While the dictionary definition of “extortion” states that it involves money, “extortion” in Tennessee can mean that a person uses force to:

(1)  Obtain property, services, any advantage or immunity; or

(2)  Restrict unlawfully another’s freedom of action.

During the trial hearing on Monday, Cunningham admitted to abusing the power of the foremanship and made several inconsistent statements, including that he was not actually “threatened” by Fitzpatrick.

Grand juries and trial juries have been tainted for decades with the appointment of the foreman by the criminal court judge, which Blackwood said is not a problem.  State law mandates that a grand jury comprise 13 individuals chosen by random, “automated means.”

Cunningham is a licensed attorney and CEO of Athens Federal Community Bank.  After Cunningham denied that he was Fitzpatrick’s accuser in a hearing on June 16, no accuser was identified.

Cunningham testified at length on Monday, June 16 and Monday, June 23 as the main witness in the case.

Sentencing is expected within 60 days.

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