WERE THEY TELLING THE TRUTH, HIGH ON DRUGS, OR RETALIATING AGAINST A WHISTLEBLOWER?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 30, 2012) — The Post & Email is in receipt of an email from federal prisoner Darren Wesley Huff stating that two men named in a corruption probe by a mainstream publication testified at his trial last October. Huff contends that the third has now lost credibility because of the investigation announced on August 28 in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Huff had traveled to Madisonville, TN to attend an assignment hearing on April 20, 2010 for Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III when he was stopped by members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol for allegedly rolling through at a stop sign. Huff had stated that he was driving lawfully and committed no traffic violations. He said that he “came to a complete stop” and then noticed five police cars and “no less than ten law enforcement from ten different agencies.”
Fitzpatrick had been arrested on April 1, after he attempted to perform a citizen’s arrest of Gary Pettway, the acting grand jury foreman of 27 years, which violated state law mandating that jurors could not serve consecutive terms. Fitzpatrick had told The Post & Email that he had not known that anyone from outside the community had planned to attend the hearing and that he had expected it to take “five minutes.” Contrary to mainstream news reports, the hearing had nothing to do with “toppling Obama.”
The Post & Email had reported on the traffic stop just after it occurred and has published subsequent articles containing statements of eyewitnesses which contradict those of witnesses for the government at Huff’s trial last October.
On May 15, 2012, Huff was sentenced to four years in federal prison plus two years’ probation for a crime that did not take place. He was allowed to proceed to Madisonville following the traffic stop, where he prayed with a small group of people, attempted to gain access to the hearing for Fitzpatrick and was denied along with many others, ate lunch at a nearby restaurant, and returned home uneventfully.
Huff was not arrested until ten days later, on April 30. No other arrests were made despite descriptions of “groups” of armed people intending violence.
In the YouTube video describing the incident uploaded on April 23, 2010, Huff narrates his version of the events. The Post & Email has interviewed Huff on several occasions and is sure that his voice is that which is heard on the video. Huff reported that the officers who stopped him asked if they could search his truck and he “respectfully declined” based on a loose reference to the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees the right to be secure in one’s papers and possessions. The officers do not appear to have had a warrant to search Huff’s truck.
According to Huff, the officers responded that they would “bring the dogs out” to search his vehicle for “explosive devices,” to which Huff said he said, “Why are you looking for explosive devices?…You’re looking for the wrong people, because we’re intending on a peaceful resolution to the issues at hand.”
In the video, Huff reported that two dogs searched his truck “two different times.” He narrated that “out of respect,” he told the officers that his legally-carried firearm permit from the state of Georgia should be honored in Tennessee. Huff reported that the officers asked if “it would be OK” if they “secured” his weapon, meaning “retained” it, to which Huff responded that he had the “right to keep and bear arms.” Huff said he “would appreciate and prefer that you would allow me to keep my arms,” to which the officers said if he were to do that, he “would be arrested.”
The Tennessee constitution states in Article I, Section 26:
That the citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.
Huff is a resident of Georgia, and in regard to bearing arms, its constitution states:
Paragraph VIII. Arms, right to keep and bear. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but the General Assembly shall have power to prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne.
There does not appear to be a dispute that Huff’s firearms were properly registered.
Huff’s voice continues in the video in narration of the traffic stop, citing police brutality and a high ratio of “traffic fatalities” in Monroe County compared to the overall state. Huff said that he told the officers he would “feel safer carrying my sidearm into this situation…Frankly, we’ve asked you guys to intervene and no one has stepped forward. So If you guys now want to step in, we welcome it, because we intend no harm, but what we do intend is to effect some legal citizens’ arrests.” Huff added that he had an AK-47 but that it was in his toolbox and chose not to allow the officers to inspect it.
Prior to the citizen’s arrest, Fitzpatrick had petitioned law enforcement officers in Monroe County and the state and federal levels to act on the 20-year-long service of the “grand jury foreman.” It was later discovered that Pettway had been there for at least 27 years. In Tennessee, despite the state law which mandates jurors to wait 24 months between periods of jury service, the foreman is declared a juror but treated differently by the judges. Recently Judge Walter C. Kurtz quoted from a 1972 opinion of one judge with two concurring who stated that there is “no valid reason” why a foreman cannot serve multiple consecutive terms if the judge wishes. The question of objectivity came from the defendant in that case and was defeated by the judges’ opinion not based in the Tennessee constitution or the law.
The chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court insists that “law” consists of “court rules, as well as statutes, constitutional provisions, rules and regulations, and decisional law…”
But constitutionally, judges do not “make” law; they interpret it.
Following his trial last October, Huff was convicted of one count of “transporting in commerce a firearm in furtherance of a civil disorder.” Fitzpatrick had been scheduled and was prepared to testify at Huff’s trial. Despite having been transported to the courthouse by U.S. Marshals, Fitzpatrick was not called upon to testify as to what happened on April 20. Huff had told The Post & Email at the time that his attorney, Scott Green, had advised against Fitzpatrick’s testifying on his behalf.
It was later discovered that prejudicial and possibly defamatory materials depicting Huff and Fitzpatrick as “sovereign citizens” were circulated to local, state and federal law enforcers prior to Huff’s trial. Fitzpatrick has hypothesized that Huff “had already been found guilty” before his trial even began. Both men have been branded “dangerous” “right-wing extremists” by local officials, newspapers and TIME Magazine, which is read nationally.
An FBI agent provided a criminal complaint and affidavit alleging that Huff was guilty of “Traveling in Interstate Commerce with Intent to Incite a Riot in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2101(a) and Transporting in Commerce a firearm in furtherance of a Civil Disorder, in violation of Title 18 U.S. Code, Section 231(a).” Huff was acquitted of the first charge but convicted on the second.
The FBI agent, Mark van Balen, on page 3 of the affidavit erroneously identified April 2 as the date on which Fitzpatrick had conducted the citizen’s arrest of Gary Pettway when it was April 1.
At the bottom of page 4 of the affidavit, van Balen stated:
7. On April 20, 2010, your Affiant was present in a Command Post in Madisonville, TN, where he was informed by law enforcement officers who were reporting that HUFF and several individuals were in the possession of openly displayed and concealed firearms and were at the time present outside the Madison [sic] County General Sessions Court located in the Beecher Witt Government Building. HUFF and numerous others had also been observed gathering at restaurants and other locations near the Madison [sic] County Courthouse. Some of these persons gathered outside the Courthouse appeared to be conducting surveillance on law enforcement officers, their vehicles and police observation posts, as well as the entrances to the court building.
Is there anything illegal about going to a restaurant? If Huff had posed a threat at the time of the traffic stop, why was he allowed to proceed into Madisonville? Who are the other individuals who were “in the possession of openly displayed and concealed firearms”? Why were they not also arrested?
Contradicting van Balen’s statement are several eyewitness accounts which related that surveillance was conducted by law enforcement on the vehicles belonging to those who had chosen to travel to Madisonville to hear the court proceedings as well as statements from Huff and others that he had locked his firearms in his toolbox during the traffic stop and before arriving in town. Another eyewitness described the heavy police presence on April 20 as “costing somebody a lot of money for no reason.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has failed to respond to two Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the heavy police presence in Madisonville that day.
Since Huff’s arrest and Fitzpatrick’s numerous incarcerations in the Monroe County jail, The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a former Marine who was detained without charges on August 16 by members of the FBI and Secret Service, then placed involuntarily in a mental hospital. The young man alleges that a psychiatrist attempted to force him to take medication which he did not want, and he is now filing a lawsuit against the facility and those involved in the detention.
Obama’s Department of Justice and FBI have reportedly arrested many veterans, as John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, has been receiving “hundreds” of calls about people being arrested and “disappearing” without explanation. Fitzpatrick is positive that the orders to persecute veterans come directly from Obama and that anyone standing up to government corruption is labeled a “sovereign citizen.”
A reliable source has told The Post & Email that Obama “despises” the military for personal reasons.
At the bottom of page 5 of the affidavit, van Balen wrote:
9. OnApril 21 and April 22, 2010, your Affiant interviewed Lieutenant (Lt) Don Williams, TN Tenth Judicial District Drug Task Force (DTF), who participated in a traffic stop of HUFF’s vehicle at approximately 8:00 a.m. on April 20, 2010, along with other Agents of the DTF and State Troopers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP). Lt. Williams stated that HUFF was pulled over by Troopers Michael Wilson and Kelly Smith for three traffic violations, to wit, traffic control device, registration law ans following too closely, on Highway 68, in Sweetwater, TN. Lt. Williams observed a pistol on HUFF’s right hip upon his exiting his vehicle. Lt. Williams removed the pistol for officer safety reasons, after which HUFF produced a GA concealed weapons permit. Also present in the vehicle was XXXXX, who was not armed. After receiving a warning citation, HUFF was informed he was free to leave but he voluntarily engaged the officers in conversation. HUFF stated to Lt. Williams that if they had enough armed people, they were going to take over the Monroe County Courthouse…
Van Balen’s statement does not agree with the eyewitness who stated that Huff had appeared “agitated” after having been stopped on his way to Madisonville. To which “records” is the mainstream media referring which state that Huff had “said that he and others planned to take over the Monroe County Courthouse and arrest ‘domestic enemies of the United States engaged in treason'”? Where are those records?
Beginning on August 12, 2012, The Chattanooga Times Free Press began reporting on allegations of financial “improprieties” and other misconduct within the Tenth Judicial District, which includes Monroe County, where Fitzpatrick has exposed systemic corruption within the courts, district attorney general’s office, and sheriff’s department for the last three years. On August 28, the newspaper reported that a state-level probe into the allegations had been opened by the Attorney General, Comptroller’s Office, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. An agent from the latter had previously told Fitzpatrick to “find somebody else to ying-yang with” when he tried to report judicial corruption in the same district now under formal investigation.
However, on October 6, 2010, shortly after the TIME Magazine article on “right-wing extremism” was circulated nationally, Pam Sohn of the Times Free Press wrote, without any evidence, that “Darren Wesley Huff, 41, of Dalton, Ga., after hearing of Fitzpatrick’s arrest in Madisonville, led a group of armed individuals there ‘to take over the town’ and help Fitzpatrick on April 20, the day the retiree was to be arraigned.” Despite The Post & Email’s attempt to contact Times Free Press Managing Editor Alison Gerber on August 12, 2012 following its first installment of the six-part series to point out the inaccuracies in Sohn’s coverage of the two cases and the paper’s inconsistent stance, corrections have not been issued nor a response received.
The Times Free Press is therefore challenging the integrity of the government with its recent coverage of reports of corruption but maintaining its original position that Huff and Fitzpatrick “tried to take over the grand jury and town of Madisonville, Tenn., earlier this year.” Has it occurred to the Times Free Press that misconduct on the part of judges, grand juries, prosecutors, and court reporters might have driven the citizen’s arrest, as Fitzpatrick has claimed?
Judy Walton, author of the recent Times Free Press articles on Tenth Judicial District corruption, mentions the judiciary briefly in the following statement from page A7 of the August 12 report:
Court records and judges’ opinions contain repeated allegations and findings that 10th District prosecutors withheld evidence, tolerated and even participated in law enforcement misconduct, and violated judicial orders and defendants’ rights in criminal cases.
In addition to local newspapers’ skewed coverage of April 20, 2010, Huff was deemed “fringe” by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. He has also been labeled a “birther” when he told The Post & Email that he had no interest in Obama’s birthplace. However, two years later, the “official” birth certificate displayed on the White House website and purported to be Obama’s has been declared “definitely fraudulent” by a law enforcement investigation.
If the government is corrupt and citizens are attempting to expose it, why are they marginalized and labeled “extremists?” What prompted The Chattanooga Times Free Press to publish its series of articles in the first place after taking the opposite position two years ago?
Prior to Huff’s sentencing on May 15, U.S. Attorney William C. Killian, an Obama appointee, attempted to make the case that Huff had intended to “kidnap” employees working at the Monroe County courthouse on April 20 when such a claim had not been alleged in the FBI complaint.
The Tenth Judicial District, delineated by laws passed in 1984 which drew the state’s counties into districts but were otherwise ignored, is under investigation after years of complaints to the TBI, FBI, attorney general, and Board of Professional Responsibility went unanswered. In the print version of Times Free Press’s article of August 12, on page A7, writer Judy Walton states that “Former DTF (Drug Task Force) Director Mike Hall’s drug task force credit card was used to charge more than $50,000 between 2008 and 2010 on meals for himself, task force members and guests at local restaurants, as well as gifts, flowers and goodies for co-workers and office secretaries, credit card receipts show.”
Hall was alleged to have been “abusing prescription drugs” by a co-worker who filed a complaint against “10th District prosecutors” and claimed that District Attorney General Steve Bebb had retaliated against him “for checking up on allegations that then-DTF Director Mike Hall was abusing prescription drugs.”
Bebb has also been named as a subject of the investigation, and his office will reportedly proceed with a “pro tem” prosecutor. “That’s the government policing itself,” Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email in an interview on August 28. “Why can’t the evidence be presented to a constitutionally-constructed grand jury?”
Walton also wrote of Bebb and Hall:
When questioned in a court case last year about Hall using task force vehicles to pull his boat or to haul sound equipment for a political rally, Bebb was nonchalant.
“I really didn’t see anything wrong with it. He’s the [task force] director,” Bebb said, according to a transcript of his deposition in the court case.
Fitzpatrick has been calling Bebb “a criminal” for almost three years.
Walton stated on page A7, second column, of her August 12 article that “The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it is not investigating the personnel or operations of the 10th Judicial District.” Her subsequent article published on August 28 revealed that an investigation has been opened, which fact was confirmed by a statement from Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr.
In an email sent by Darren Huff on August 28 to a person with whom he communicates via email from federal prison, he wrote:
Thank you for the letters. I have gone through the articles, and intend to make sure that my attorney (lol) has the information. I think that it could be considered as “new evidence” for my appeal, as it now shows a documented history of corruption by the EXACT same people who testified at my trial… Mike Hall, Don Williams (who directed my infamous traffic stop which can be seen on youtube), as well as Steve Bebb. ALL of them testified at my trial, and are now shown to have ZERO credibility.
So who is lying, and who is telling the truth?
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.