Four Years Later, Roane County, TN Extortion Charge Remains Unresolved

DEFENDANT FILES MOTION TO DISMISS FOR PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT

by Sharon Rondeau

Roane County, TN was founded in 1801 and named for the state’s second governor, Archibald Roane

(Mar. 12, 2017) — With four defense attorneys and nearly four years behind him, Roane County, TN defendant Roy Cook has filed a Motion to Dismiss the case against him on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

After his fourth attorney withdrew from the case last October, Cook was assigned “elbow counsel” in preparation for his July 11 trial but has performed the research and writing of his motion himself.

In April 2013, Cook’s computers and cellular phones were seized on a search warrant after his twin brother, Andrew Cook, contacted then-investigator Jeff Vittatoe alleging that Roy had attempted to extort him for $30,000 for the return of a number of computer circuit boards associated with Andrew Cook’s business.

Vittatoe did not present evidence in the case to the Roane County grand jury, although Andrew Cook did.   The grand jury did not issue an indictment against Roy Cook until October 2013.

Roy Cook has reported that none of his previous four defense attorneys assigned to him were willing to file a Motion to Dismiss accusing Assistant District Attorney General Robert Edwards of malfeasance, including withholding and tampering with evidence.

One of the examples Roy Cook cites as illustrative of withholding evidence is that the discovery packet of emails exchanged between Andrew Cook, Vittatoe, and others contains a name in an email which was mysteriously whited out.  “Edwards has ‘lost’ phone records for two numbers, multiple emails, and a non-redacted copy of that one email,” Roy Cook told The Post & Email.

As we have reported over more than seven years, Tennessee criminal court judges are permitted to hand-select the grand jury foreman, who then serves for as long as the judge wishes, contrary to TCA 22-2-314, which states that all jurors must be chosen by “random, automated means.” Both judges and district attorneys general wield inordinate power and, even when warranted, are rarely admonished by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct (BJC) or Board of Professional Responsibility (BOPR), respectively.

Roy Cook currently has three complaints filed with the BOPR accusing Edwards and two of his previous defense attorneys of misconduct which have remain unaddressed since their date of filing in late August 2016.

Roy Cook believes there are other reasons to dismiss his case, including an unsigned evidence log for the equipment seized from his residence and not returned for 20 months as well as contradictory statements from Edwards and forensic analyst Shane Harold as to whether or not any evidence was found.

The Motion to Dismiss can be read here:  motion to dismiss. pm.filed

In his four-page argument accompanied by 34 pages of exhibits, Roy Cook claimed that the signature put forth as Vittatoe’s on a property receipt, indicated as “Exhibit 1,” is a “forgery.” “All you have to do is look at Exhibits 2, 5, 2A, 3 and 4,” Roy Cook said. “All of those exhibits supposedly have his signature on them.  Vittatoe never spelled out his complete last name anywhere but the Property Receipt Log which per the Evidence Room Receipt Log should have some items ‘highlighted’ as the ones given to Lt. Dan Schneider for forensic analysis.  On the property receipt, ‘Vittatoe’ is spelled with three ‘t’s drawn out.”‘

In further explanation of his Motion, Roy Cook told us:

Twice on April 15 of last year, Edwards said, “There was no forensic analysis done.”  Then, in a letter dated September 15, he said, “It was conveyed that it was either not done or if done, nothing was found.”  He’s had 11 months now to go up before the judge and say, “Your Honor, I misspoke.”  But he’s never done that.

I subpoenaed Shane Harold’s records and Harold turned them over to Edwards the last week of June, but Edwards didn’t turn it into the court clerk until September 16 of last year.  So he held them ten weeks, and his explanation was that he “had to think about it.”

He also said that he cannot remember a conversation with my brother (Andrew) for 62 minutes but he does remember examining six items and finding nothing. The funny thing is the Electronic Forensics Request only lists four items, and handwritten investigative notes from Vittatoe only lists two items.

Edwards never contacted Earthlink for emails, and he has denied the existence of phone records from numbers other than the one with area code “901.”  There were two other numbers involved.  He’s lied about emails and phone calls. The proof that the missing email and phone records exist are contained in email exchanges between Vittatoe and the plaintiff in exhibits 22 and 24.  In those emails the plaintiff mentions at least two other phone numbers which have never been seen and emails from January 2013 that have never been produced.  All emails turned over by the prosecution have March and April 2013 dates.

Edwards has declined to speak with The Post & Email about the case.

 

 

2 Responses to "Four Years Later, Roane County, TN Extortion Charge Remains Unresolved"

  1. Sharon Rondeau   Monday, March 13, 2017 at 6:23 PM

    Not to my knowledge.

  2. Rick Johnson   Monday, March 13, 2017 at 10:13 AM

    I have been out of the loop for some time so I apologize for being ill informed. Has anyone in the higher end of the Tennessee Justice Department ever picked up on this illegal behavior?

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