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ARMED U.S. MARSHALS DISPATCHED TO ARREST FLORIDA MAN FROM MONROE COUNTY, TN
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 8, 2012) — A motorcycle accident from last Mother’s Day involving a former Monroe County man has generated prosecution by armed U.S. Marshals despite the fact that no criminal charges had been filed against him.
The accident occurred in Polk County, TN, when nine motorcyclists were riding through the Tennessee section of Copper Basin on May 11, 2011. The Florida man, Mr. Rex Peak, was in the area to visit his elderly parents for Mothers’ Day. Peak’s friends, a husband and wife, pulled in front of him while rounding a corner, and Peak’s motorcycle hit theirs. There were injuries to all three parties, although not life-threatening.
Peak stated that the police came and generated a report which said that he “might” have been following the motorcycle in front of him “too closely,” although no charges were filed against anyone. He was taken to Copper Basin Medical Center with a broken collarbone. Peak stated that he and his friends had been drinking and that his blood alcohol level was tested at the hospital.
Tennessee law states that anyone whose blood alcohol level is .08 or higher is considered to have been driving under the influence (DUI). Fines and penalties are stated in another section of the law. Mr. Peak said that he was the only one of the three tested for DUI.
Upon discharge from the hospital, the Polk County police escorted Peak to the Monroe County line, where Monroe County sheriff’s deputies accompanied him to his parents’ home. “There were no charges filed; no nothin’,” Peak said. He told The Post & Email that his insurance company instructed him to rent a car and take his motorcycle back to Florida.
The couple riding the motorcycle with which Peak’s collided consulted an attorney and had planned on filing a lawsuit against Peak, but a settlement was discussed and reportedly would have been solidified had the case not become complicated with the U.S. marshals’ visit. “The insurance company told me they cannot pay the offer off because I have pending charges to this particular case,” Peak said. Formerly friends, the couple had told their attorney that Peak had committed “vehicular assault.”
Eight months after the accident and back in Florida, Peak was away from his home for a short time in preparation for another personal trip to Tennessee. When he returned home, his cousin informed him that “six U.S. marshals with night-vision glasses and shotguns and local cops” had gone to his house to detain him on a charge of vehicular assault and DUI “that was never, ever mentioned before.” No summons, case number or charges had been issued.
Shortly thereafter, Peak booked a flight to Tennessee to take care of the matter. While there, he met with two different attorneys, describing the visit from the U.S. marshals. He also spoke with an FBI agent in an advisory role off the record. He had learned that a $250,000 bond had been issued despite no charges having been filed. He stated that one attorney told him to “just go on his way” and that the matter would “die out” eventually.
When Peak returned to Florida, U.S. marshals again visited his home while he was at work. He called the Marin County Sheriff’s Department, which said that the marshals “were just doing their job.” Peak responded that he “understood and respected that.” He said the sheriff’s department ran his name through the NCIC system and there were no charges or warrants issued on him. “They told me not to worry about it,” Peak said.
However, he returned to Tennessee a second time and was told by an attorney, “If you turn yourself in on this, you’re going to be hung, because I’ve had dealings with Ms. Reedy before.”
Peak started an insulation company in Florida after spending time in prison during the 1990s. He said he had gone to Florida “to start a new life” and that his only transgression was one speeding ticket in six years.
In 2005, he spent two weeks in the Monroe County jail for allegedly having drugs on his person and therefore violating his parole from the former charge for which he had served time. A parole officer named Bobby Byrd was sent by the state of Tennessee to decide whether to return Peak to prison or reinstate him. Byrd’s recommendation was that Peak should be released and no charges pursued. Peak was told that his car had been seized because drug-sniffing dogs had “barked” at it. Peak claimed that nothing was found in the car or on his person, hence the Parole Board’s decision to release him. “They did not find nothin’ in the car and they did not find nothin’ on me,” Peak said.
To retake possession of his car, he had to pay $2,200 in impound fees. Several months later, he was charged for “possession of cocaine for resale.” Peak went to court and took the charge to the Monroe County grand jury, after which the jury failed to indict. “They could not decide,” Peak said. According to Peak, Judge Amy Reedy became enraged that the grand jury did not indict him and said, “I’m hungry. I’m tired. Mr. Peak, I’m going to tell you now. You’ll take five years’ probation, a $2,500 fine, and court costs, or I’ll give you 20 years within two weeks.”
Peak said he was anxious to return to Florida to attend to his business and responded, “Ma’am, you do what you feel like you got to do, because I’ve got a good life. I’m going back to Florida; you won’t have any problems out of me.” He accepted the plea deal and returned to Florida, where the probation file was transferred.
Peak stated that he had four different probation officers over a three and one-half-year period. “Every one of ’em looked at my file and said, ‘Why have you not appealed this?’ and I said, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Well, this is not right; you had a hung jury. Why are you paying five years and a fine for no verdict?’ I told ’em my situation and the trouble I had before. But the fourth probation officer said, “You know what? I’m not going to stand back and let this happen to you. I’m going to file a motion for early termination due to circumstances.” Peak had responded to the officer, ‘If you come from that town up there, they do what they want.” He later learned that Reedy denied the request.
When The Post & Email mentioned rigged grand juries to Mr. Peak, he said, “I’ve known about that since 1998.”
Peak told The Post & Email that the attorney he had decided to use had called him on a Sunday after having spoken with Judge Amy Reedy. The lawyer said to Peak, ” I don’t know what you’ve done to this woman, but she is going to come back at you.” Peak said that the attorney then said Reedy had threatened him with loss of his law license if he accepted Peak’s case. “If you defend this man, your license is in jeopardy,” the lawyer told Peak.
Peak had asked the attorney, “If I turn myself in, when can I get a bond reduction?” and the lawyer said, “She told me point-blank you will not get a bond reduction. You will rot there because you absconded a bond.” Peak then asked, “What do you mean, ‘absconded a bond?’ The attorney said, “Well, were you arrested?” Peak then explained that he had never been arrested, but Reedy had claimed that Peak had “absconded a bond” after the motorcycle accident, he had “gone to Florida.”
“She put it down as I ran away from Tennessee,” Peak explained.
The actions taken against Peak appear to be retaliatory on Reedy’s part. Peak said that in 1998, Reedy was assistant district attorney under Steve Ward, the D.A. at the time that Peak had been charged and convicted of a prior crime. Peak said that his lawyer had a “two-year deal worked out” with Ward, but according to Peak, Ward “got caught with a bunch of drug money and stolen vehicles,” causing Ward’s resignation. “They let him resign in order to avoid charges,” said Peak. “He’s a lawyer now. They brought her in, and she gave me eight years in the state penitentiary for facilitating a second-degree murder. So that’s where it started,” Peak said.
“When I came up on this drug charge after I did my time in prison and on parole, just by coincidence it was Reedy’s first time on the judge’s seat. I told my lawyer, ‘This is a conflict of interest; I’m not goin’ in front of her.” But she said, “Sit down and shut up. It’s too late. I’m tired; I’m hungry; we’re going to get this over with.”
Peak said that on May 2, a cousin of his in Florida who is on federal parole and “doin’ real good” was taken into custody, questioned, and threatened with violation of parole by U.S. marshals and the FBI in Florida because Peak had gone by his house. “He knew nothing about what was goin’ on until he read about it,” said Peak. “They’re wantin’ to violate him now because he had had contact with me.” The U.S. marshals then reportedly showed Peak’s cousin paperwork indicating that a bench warrant had been issued against Peak. “She has pulled a bench warrant on me sayin’ that I failed to appear for court, and I’ve never been arrested,” he said. “She has got me charged with vehicular homicide now, and nobody’s even died…She’s tryin’ to do that to cover herself for this $250,000 bond.”
“I know how this woman plays,” Peak said in regard to Reedy. “If I go and turn myself in – she’s only in that county every four months, so you have to sit and wait until she comes to get any kind of hearing – she’s going to have cops roll up in there on me, either plant somethin’ on me; they’re gonna rough me up, and she knows I’ll fight ’em back, because if you goin’ to back me in a corner and treat me wrong, I have to defend myself. She’s gonna bring more charges on me, and I cannot put myself in that position.”
Reedy has retaliated against other members of the community she allegedly serves by issuing an arrest warrant for a $50 traffic ticket after the young man involved asked for a jury trial and his father filed an ethics complaint against her. An article published in The Daily Post Athenian dated April 3, 2012 entitled “Traffic Stop Leads to Court Battle” states that after officers showed up repeatedly to arrest Samuel Whiting, his parents now plan on filing a “$500,000 lawsuit in federal court” after negotiations with the Tennessee Highway Patrol fell through. The settlement request had delineated donations to be made to the community to help those in need, with nothing going to the Whiting family.
Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III has had extensive dealings with Judge Amy Reedy and called her “a criminal.” Peak said he has heard Reedy state that it is her goal to sentence members of the community to 1,000,000 man-hours of prison time during her career, a philosophy she adopted from her predecessor, Judge Mashburn, who passed away in 1996. “He was the first one to come out with that,” Peak said. “He said, ‘Before my term is up, I will hand down 1,000,000 years.’ And I heard her say on the news, ‘I will pick up where you left off and I will continue that tradition.'”
Peak told The Post & Email that he was close to retirement when the U.S. marshals began to show up at his home three months ago. He has had to sell all of his company equipment and said that he is now financially and personally ruined. “How could she [Amy Reedy] get the U.S. marshals to come and retain me over a DUI and a vehicle stop without any charges?” he asked.