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by Sharon Rondeau

Polk County is part of the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee, which is known for widespread, endemic corruption

(Jan. 22, 2013) — The Post & Email has been reporting on the case of Rex Peak, who was in a motorcycle accident in May 2011, was never charged with a crime, and  was then pursued by U.S. marshals with a bench warrant while living in Florida last year.

Peak turned himself in to authorities last June, spending five months in the Polk County jail in Benton, TN prior to his release on November 5, 2012.  Polk County is one of four counties located in the Tenth Judicial District in eastern Tennessee, where an investigation was allegedly launched last August by the attorney general, Office of the Comptroller, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).

In November, neither the comptroller nor the attorney general’s office would confirm to The Post & Email that an investigation has been undertaken.  When first announced, however, District Attorney General Steve Bebb had pledged to step down from his position but reportedly continues to serve today.  Calls to Bebb’s office have not been returned.

Beginning last March, U.S. marshals had repeatedly appeared at Peak’s home in Florida allegedly based on a bench warrant issued by Tenth Judicial District Judge Amy Reedy.  However, Peak had never been formally charged with a crime.  A bond had been set for $250,000 for DUI and vehicular homicide, but no one had died as a result of the motorcycle accident.

In speaking with him today, Peak revealed more of what transpired between the marshals and three of his neighbors, who told Peak that they were offered each $5,000 if they were to alert the marshals as to when Peak arrived home on any given day, as he had been working when they arrived at his home heavily-armed and with night-vision goggles.  One neighbor reportedly told Peak that the “offer” was increased to $50,000 after subsequent visits from the marshals and that Peak had been described as “a highly dangerous individual” who “won’t go peacefully.”

A business card from the U.S. Marshals’ Service given to one of the neighbors was given to Peak, who read the name “Bryon Carroll” and “Northern District of Florida” from the card.

Peak’s bond had been set by Reedy for $250,000, but no record of an arrest or warrant appeared after Peak went to his county sheriff last year, nor when he was stopped for a seat belt violation by a South Carolina state trooper a month before he turned himself in to Monroe County authorities.

Peak had been incarcerated for three months when Judge Amy Reedy agreed to recuse herself from his case for conflict of interest, something Peak’s public defender, John Fortuno, had reportedly been unwilling to request.  At that time, Reedy told Peak in court, “I’m not supposed to be your judge” and denied recalling having presided over a case in which he was involved in 2005.  Peak had also asked for a change in venue and the reduction of his bond, both of which his attorney did not request.

Judge Carroll Lee Ross assumed the case from Reedy.  In a hearing held on November 5, Ross agreed that the bond was too high and lowered it to $50,000.  Peak told The Post & Email that Ross had told him he had “no right to speak” in court and that his court-appointed attorney worked for the government, not for him.  “The 14th Amendment gives me the constitutional right to speak,” Peak told us.

Peak said the bond is still too high, as normally “DUI” is posted at $1,000 and a vehicular homicide charge would be in the area of $100,000, although he was not charged with either crime.  After lowering the bond, Ross reportedly said in court, “I want some answers on my desk before this goes to trial.”

A status hearing is scheduled for March 25 with a trial on March 27 at 9:00 a.m. in Benton.

Peak is sure that the “bench warrant” given to U.S. marshals was “pulled out of a file” and is “not on computer,” as his former county sheriff and the South Carolina state trooper did not find it when they ran a background check on him.  He told The Post & Email that his only violation since 2005 was a speeding ticket in Florida and the warning given to him by the police called to the scene of the motorcycle accident which did not result in a fine or ticket.  “I was never charged or booked until June,” Peak said.

Peak had attempted to obtain a copy of the transcript from his 2005 trial but was told that it was not available because the “transcript machine was messed up.”  Other defendants in the Tenth Judicial District have reported being unable to obtain copies of transcripts, although a third party has obtained them and posted them on the internet.  A version of a transcript obtained by The Post & Email for Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III is different from one posted by “Politijab” in 2010.  “They change transcripts all the time,” Peak said.

Peak’s understanding is that a jury from Benton will hear his case, but he reported that the case originated in Ducktown in Polk County.

During the course of the interview, Peak asked, “How do I fight this?  How do you fight complete judicial corruption?”  Fitzpatrick has similarly decried the absence of any authority who could be approached regarding the institutionalized corruption in eastern Tennessee, something which returning World War II veterans faced in 1946, culminating in the Battle of Athens in McMinn County.  The TBI and FBI have been approached numerous times with hard evidence, although corruption in both agencies has also been alleged.

FBI and TBI agents appeared on April 20, 2010 in Madisonville, Monroe County, to stop an alleged “plot” to “take over the courthouse,” which resulted in the conviction of Darren Wesley Huff to four years in federal prison after “nothing happened.”  A FOIA request for documentation on the event filed in late March of last year has been denied on “privacy” grounds, with another appeal pending.  Fitzpatrick has called the massive police presence that day a “false flag operation.”

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