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WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN ON FRIDAY MORNING
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 29, 2014) — On Monday, a McMinn County Sheriff’s Office corporal told The Post & Email that a timing error had resulted in CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick’s removal, then return, to the McMinn County “Justice” Center.
We were told by a deputy on Tuesday afternoon through a conference call initiated by an intermediary that Fitzpatrick had been again moved out of McMinn that morning, which matched the information published by the McMinn County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 12:20 p.m. EDT.
Corporal Bledsoe had informed us that Fitzpatrick was “going to prison,” then said, “Bledsoe,” meaning the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex (BCCX) located near Pikeville, TN. BCCX is described as “the intake diagnostic center for the Tennessee Department of Correction. New offenders receive a diagnostic assessment which will determine which location meets their needs.”
On Friday morning, The Post & Email called BCCX and again spoke with someone in Administration, who told us that in her opinion, it is not unusual that an inmate’s name would not appear in a search of the website over a three-day period. While she said that the responsibility for entering inmates’ names into the system is borne by the “Classifications” division within prison administration, she told us that prisoners are normally received “30 or so at a time,” the processing of which “takes a little time.”
A source inside the prison stated to a source of The Post & Email’s that Fitzpatrick was expected last Friday and confirmed an administrative error which sent him back to McMinn for the weekend. The same source stated that he was expected there on Monday, although he was not noted as having been relocated until Tuesday morning. The deputy conferenced into our telephone call stated that Fitzpatrick had been kept “in a holding cell” for an undetermined amount of time before his release from McMinn.
Fitzpatrick was convicted of “aggravated perjury” and “extortion” on June 24 by a McMinn County jury, none of whom has been willing to speak with The Post & Email about his or her experience as a juror on the case. Fitzpatrick had submitted several successive petitions alleging criminality on the part of judges, prosecutors, the grand jury foreman, and McMinn County Chief Court Clerk, Rhonda Cooley, among others, over a period of months which were rejected by then-grand jury foreman Jeffrey Cunningham. Cunningham is also President & CEO of Athens Bancshares Corporation, the parent company of Athens Federal Community Bank, where he earns an annual salary of more than $630,000.
Cunningham is also a licensed Tennessee attorney.
During the pre-trial hearing on June 16 and the trial itself on June 23 and 24, Cunningham denied having filed a formal complaint, and the prosecution produced no documentation that a complaint or police report existed alleging Fitzpatrick’s illegal actions. The Tennessee constitution states that an accused has the right to face his accuser.
A pre-sentencing report completed by Judith Hilton-Coffman of the Tennessee Board of Parole stated that the “crimes” of which Fitzpatrick was convicted had no victim, but she reportedly “corrected” herself during the sentencing hearing to say that Cunningham, although he had denied it twice, was the victim.
Defense Attorney Van Irion had argued on June 24 that if the jury voted to convict Fitzpatrick on any of the charges, it would affect all Americans’ ability to take evidence of a crime to a grand jury in their own respective communities. After Fitzpatrick was convicted, Irion told Dr. Laurie Roth of The Roth Show that he is now afraid himself to take evidence to a grand jury and that he can no longer recommend it to others.
“The grand jury is what makes us a constitutional republic,” Fitzpatrick has often stated.
Since the fall of 2009, Fitzpatrick has exposed commandeered grand juries whose foremen are hand-picked by criminal courts judges and serve as long as the judge desires, working closely with prosecutors and then voting with the other members of the grand jury.
The State of Tennessee has said that the foreman is both a juror and not a juror. During the pre-sentencing hearing, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood disparaged citizens “talking about their constitutional rights” and called Fitzpatrick “a moral coward,” to which the spokesperson for the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (TAOC) has refused to provide a comment to The Post & Email.
McMinn County clerks have also failed to respond to The Post & Email’s request for a recording of the hearing as well as copies of their surety bonds required to be held on file by state law. Liens can be placed against the insurance company which provides the bonds if wrongdoing on the part of clerks and others covered by it can be proved.