Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk informed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) in a meeting Tuesday that its file on the Megan Barry case “may be closed.” However, the other investigations – namely the Special Investigative Committee and the Metro Nashville Board of Ethics are continuing to look into possible wrongdoing by Barry.
The Nashville DA’s director of communications Steve Hayslip released a statement that included information about the plea deal(s) struck along with disclosing DA Glenn Funk’s request that TBI end its investigation:
There have been several questions from media representatives about the charges Megan Barry and Robert Forrest pled guilty to today. In an effort to clarify, we will answer those questions here:
Regarding reimbursement amounts: All members of the security detail saw an increase in hours worked under the Barry administration as opposed to previous administrations. Robert Forrest’s hours increased significantly more than other members of the detail. 45,000 dollars represents an acceptable figure for his increase in hours and pay in contrast to other members of the detail. The 11,000 dollars paid by Megan Barry represents Robert Forrest’s travel expenses.
The time frame given in court today of March 1, 2016 through January of 2018 represents the approximate dates of the affair between Megan Barry and Robert Forrest.
Megan Barry and Robert Forrest entered conditional pleas, meaning that if they successfully complete probation, they could then petition the court to have their records expunged. If expunged, there would be no criminal record.
Megan Barry is eligible for T.C.A. §40-35-313 because Mr. Forrest admitted that he improperly received more than 10,000 dollars in city compensation for time he reported as work hours which were actually personal time with Megan Barry. Megan Barry’s personal time did not involve the duties of her office or her official capacity, which is why she was charged with and pled guilty to theft of property.
Megan Barry complied with the conditions of her probation by repaying the 11,000 dollar reimbursement to the city and resigning her office today. Therefore, her probation will be unsupervised, which means she will have no probation officer. Her unsupervised probation does not restrict travel within the U.S.
Following Megan Barry and Robert Forrest’s guilty pleas today, Glenn Funk met with the TBI and informed them that the investigation into this matter may be closed. By state statute, TBI investigative reports are not public records.
The Tennessee Star reached out to TBI spokesperson Susan Niland to clarify if the investigation was closed, and if there are any ongoing investigations into the group of people based mainly in the Mayor’s Office who worked together to deliver resources – including the expenditure of taxpayer funds – to facilitate and attempt to cover up the illicit, 2-year affair between former Mayor Barry and her bodyguard, Rob Forrest:
The Star: Has the TBI, in fact, closed the investigation(s) of Megan Barry?
Niland/TBI: We have confirmed that upon the request from District Attorney General Glenn Funk, we will conclude our investigation on this matter.
The Star: Can the TBI confirm or deny that other individuals in Barry’s ‘orbit’ (eg. Debby Dale Mason, Rich Riebeling, Rob Forrest, etc.) are under investigation for possible wrongdoing in connection with Megan Barry?
Niland/TBI: (no answer)
Meanwhile, the two remaining investigations move forward, albeit with a modified mission.
The Metro Council Special Committee gathered Tuesday after a regular Metro Council meeting.
The hour-and-a-half meeting concluded with the decision not to disband–despite Mayor Barry’s resignation and guilty plea–and instead focus on finding ways to prevent similar corruption in the future.
The Special Committee also decided to limit their legal expenses to 15 hours at a maximum of $395 an hour – but they may request additional funding from the Metro Council should they determine the need.
The committee’s next meeting will be after the City’s auditors have complete their report.
Wednesday, the Metro Council Board of Ethical Conduct – whose investigation is in response to a complaint filed by local ‘Community Oversight Now’ activist Theeda Murphy – met and decided to focus on two areas of inquiry:
- Former Metro Sgt. Rob Forrest’s excessive overtime (which he pleaded guilty to)
- Did his relationship with Megan Barry influence her stance on a proposed community oversight board
At the meeting, WPLN reported Community Oversight Now activists produced for them copies of emails obtained through public records requests that show Forrest and Police Chief Steve Anderson were included in conversations about the proposed oversight board.
By the close of the meeting, the Ethics Board did not decide on a date for the Ethics hearing.