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SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT CONFISCATES INMATES’ FUNDS; COURT RECEIVES MONEY BUT FAILS TO DELIVER THE GOODS
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 27, 2011) — The Post & Email has contacted the Knoxville office of the FBI regarding money which was sent to Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III while he was incarcerated in the Monroe County jail but never turned over to him.
Two readers of The Post & Email sent funds over state lines to LCDR Fitzpatrick, who spent 60 days in the Monroe County jail following his arrest on October 27, 2010. The two USPS money orders were in the amounts of $50 and $25, respectively.
Fitzpatrick reported that the funds were placed into a commissary account with Sheriff Bill Bivens’s name on it and that the $75 should have been available to him upon his release on December 30, 2010. He stated that he did not use any of the funds while in jail.
Fitzpatrick said that Captain Pat Wilson, Lt. Mary Stanley, and Officer Trent Prock are in charge of scheduling release dates for inmates. During the first week of December, Fitzpatrick prepared a written request to obtain his exact release date and specifically requested that the $75 from the commissary account be made available to him upon his departure. He said that in addition to his signature on the request, two other inmates served as witnesses and signed the document.
So what is Sheriff Bill Bivens doing with the inmates’ money? Keeping funds which belong to someone else is called theft, the last we heard.
On January 3, 2011, The Post & Email sent a money order in the amount of $33.00 to Martha M. Cook, Chief Court Clerk of Monroe County, for an official transcript from the June 28, 2010 arraignment hearing for LCDR Fitzpatrick, which he has been unable to obtain. We were instructed to send it to:
Ms. Martha M. Cook
Chief Court Clerk
105 College Street
Madisonville, TN 37354
with a clear return address, which we did.
As of yesterday, January 26, 2011, we still had not received the transcript despite Ms. Barnes’s assurance to us on January 20, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. that she would “send it within a few days.” She asked for the return address, and we again provided it.
Or did they? Did Politijab perhaps produce a “transcript” on its own and masquerade it as the official court document? Ms. Barnes had told us that “someone bought the original,” so was it the Politijab group or someone else? And why would the court clerk not have a copy of an official court transcript in her files?
All of the above information has been reported to Ms. Laura Click, Media Contact for the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts. We also sent a letter to the Tennessee governor and attorney general dated January 26, 2011.
Has the transcript ever been prepared by Ms. Barnes? If so, does the transcript match the audio of the proceedings that day? Ms. Barnes has told us that the audio is not available to the public. Neither, apparently, is the transcript, a court document which the court reporter is paid to produce and for which The Post & Email has paid to obtain. The last we knew, that is called extortion.
The following is the email sent to the Knoxville FBI:
Good morning. I have contacted you previously regarding corruption within the Monroe County, TN government.
This communication regards money which my company sent on January 3, 2011, to Ms. Martha M. Cook, Chief Clerk, 105 College Street, Madisonville, TN 37354 to purchase an official court transcript from an arraignment hearing which took place on June 28, 2010. Judge Carroll Ross had presided. A clear purpose for the payment was provided on the money order as well as a return address.
As I never received the transcript, on January 20, 2011, I contacted the court reporter, who works at home, who acknowledged that the court had received my payment. However, no reason was provided as to why the transcript had not been sent. She promised to send it “within the next few days.”
After checking our post office box yesterday and failing to receive it, I am requesting your assistance in investigating why this transcript has not been made available. I have sent a money order at their request over state lines to pay for a public court record and have been denied access. Prior to sending the money, the court clerk and transcriptionist delayed responding directly to my request by bouncing me back and forth between them and failing to provide an address to which to send it for the period of about two weeks. I have the emails if you need them.
The defendant in the case has also not been able to obtain the transcript in question and has now subpoenaed it from the transcriptionist for his appeal. However, a document purporting to be the transcript was posted on the internet with a watermark of “Friends of Politijab” across it. The defendant has downloaded and read that document, as have I, and he has stated that it does not contain all of the dialogue which took place during the court hearing.
I have contacted Governor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr. regarding the confiscation of my money and failure to provide the promised court document.
A similar issue exists within the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. A money order for $50 was sent to an inmate in early November, a fact not revealed to him until the end of that month. At that point, sheriff’s deputies stated that the money had gone into an inmate account which is set up in the name of Sheriff Bill Bivens. The money order had never been signed by the intended recipient. Another money order sent by a different individual for $25 similarly was never given to the inmate, and it was not spent while he was incarcerated. He has since been released from the Monroe County jail but never received the funds although he requested them in writing prior to his release.
This is theft and extortion, clear and simple. I will appreciate your assistance in this matter.
The Post & Email, Inc.
Editor’s Note: The email to the FBI is an historical record and therefore could not be altered for this report. However, it should be noted that LCDR Fitzpatrick had already subpoenaed the June 28, 2010 transcript the morning of the hearing, before it commenced. Therefore, the words “has now subpoenaed it from the transcriptionist for his appeal” are not quite accurate. Fitzpatrick has recently placed a different transcript under subpoena for his appeal, which will be the subject of another article in the near future.