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BUT NOT EVERYTHING THAT WAS TAKEN
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 9, 2012) — Pursuant to Judge Walter C. Kurtz’s order for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department to return computer hardware seized from Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III on December 7, 2011, the equipment was retrieved today at approximately 1:45 p.m.
The mandate stated that equipment not needed for the trial set for September 10 be returned within ten days of the date of the order, July 2, but the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department did not contact Fitzpatrick about it until July 31, when a letter was sent stating that Fitzpatrick could make an appointment to regain possession of his equipment.
Fitzpatrick brought two witnesses with him when he retrieved the items. He stated that he received “all of the hardware” but has not yet been able to determine if he can connect to the internet since he does not currently have an internet connection. He told us that the ink cartridges which had been in the printers were also returned intact.
Assistant District Attorney General Paul D. Rush had stated during the most recent court hearing that law enforcement officers pursuing the case against Fitzpatrick for “tampering with government records” had determined that the scanners would not be useful to them. At that time, the equipment was said to be in the possession of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and that investigators were seeking “emails” between Fitzpatrick and this writer. Fitzpatrick has stated that he did not turn on his computer on December 7, 2011.
When The Post & Email asked, “Did they give you back everything?” Fitzpatrick replied, “No.” He explained that still missing from what was taken in the SWAT-team raid are his notes on his observations of the grand jury selection by Judge Amy Reedy that morning.
Of the encounter today, Fitzpatrick said, “At the beginning, Mason wasn’t going to give the equipment back. He said, ‘Do you have a copy of the court order?'” to which Fitzpatrick answered, “No, I don’t; I don’t need one.” Mason responded, “Well, yes, you do. I can’t give you this unless I have a copy of the court order.” Fitzpatrick then said, “If I needed that court document, you could have told me when I called you at the beginning of the week,” to which Mason responded, “I thought you knew.” “How would I know that?” Fitzpatrick countered.
“He then went and called Renee Ezzell, the same “Renee Ezzell” who left the court records documents down in the Chancery courtroom – and he said, ‘Can you fax that over to me?'” Fitzpatrick said, referencing the documents over which the tampering charge was issued.
“I’m not the originator of that document,” Fitzpatrick told us. “That is their document.”
On December 7, Fitzpatrick had left the Monroe County courthouse with papers which had been lying on a table in the lower-level courtroom with other publicly-available information. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department later visited Fitzpatrick’s home allegedly to tell him that he had taken documents not intended for the public, but Fitzpatrick was not home at the time. Several hours later, the SWAT team consisting of FBI, TBI, and sheriff’s deputies barged into Fitzpatrick’s home, seizing his equipment and arresting him.
Fitzpatrick then spent from December 7 to February 9, 2012 in the Monroe County jail for allegedly under-serving his previous jail sentence and for tampering with the court documents.
Fitzpatrick said that items not returned to him today were “ten pages of handwritten notes in pencil” taken in open court while the grand jury members were chosen. Fitzpatrick said he had planned on typing up the notes on his observations of the grand jury selection and mailing them to The Post & Email. He said there were other “unidentified documents” which he was also not given today and the sheriff’s department claimed it did not have.
An inventory of paperwork which Fitzpatrick identified as missing was made while Fitzpatrick was at the sheriff’s department.
During the process of recovering his equipment, Fitzpatrick learned that a letter sent by certified mail by Detective Conway Mason to Fitzpatrick’s address of record was never delivered, although it was addressed properly. “The letter was returned to the sheriff’s department,” Fitzpatrick said. “This goes back to things that have been sent before that haven’t gotten to me, either. So now we’re looking at the U.S. Postal Service as being the culprit. It was a certified letter.”
Judge Kurtz had asked Fitzpatrick in court on June 28 why a letter outlining his case schedule sent to the same address of record did not arrive at its destination, to which Fitzpatrick had responded, “I don’t know.”
“The United States Postal Service refused to deliver the letter, and now we have proof of that,” Fitzpatrick said. “So we had Conway Mason make a copy of the letter, front and back, that was returned to them. Now we know that the problem is not me as the judge was suggesting.”
Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that he is “very happy” to have his computer equipment back. “Now I can watch some movies,” he said.
Last winter while Fitzpatrick was in the Monroe County jail, most of his belongings, furniture, kitchen appliances and a large sum of cash were stolen from the home he had rented. While the perpetrators are known, the Sweetwater Police have refused to conduct a proper investigation and will not return phone calls.
Shortly after his release, Fitzpatrick found that the IRS had garnished his military pension by two-thirds. A Justice Fund has been established to assist Fitzpatrick with his legal defense in Monroe County. Donations can be sent to:
Walter Fitzpatrick III
c/o Michael Lermen, Trustee/WF Lawsuit
P.O. Box 9853
Fountain Valley, CA 92728
Editor’s Note: Please watch for breaking news about Walter Fitzpatrick in the coming days.