Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained an indictment for a former police chief accused of misconduct and sexual impropriety.
This week the Monroe County Grand Jury returned an indictment against former Tellico Plains police chief James Russell Parks, Jr., according to a TBI press release.
Officials charged Parks with one count of official misconduct and book him into the Monroe County Jail on a $6,000 bond, the press release went on to say.
“On February 14th, at the request of 10th District Attorney General Steve Crump, TBI Agents began investigating missing funds from the Tellico Plains Police Department’s drug enforcement fund, which totaled approximately $840. During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that James Russell Parks, Jr., the department’s police chief, was responsible for the missing funds,” the press release said.
“The investigation further determined Parks, 44, was involved in a sexual relationship with an informant paid out of the department’s drug enforcement fund. Parks resigned from the department when the allegation surfaced.”
TBI spokesman Josh DeVine told The Tennessee Star Friday he could divulge no further information about the case.
As The Star has reported, this is not the first time authorities have accused Tennessee law enforcement officers of improprieties involving a local drug fund or seized evidence related to alleged drug crimes.
• As reported last year, officials in the town of Whiteville allegedly paid $9,230 from the drug fund and bought office furniture and wiring for the new city hall building. By law, they may not use drug fund money on such expenditures. According to the town’s drug fund manual, town officials can use this money on drug treatment and drug education programs, drug enforcement programs, confidential expenditures, law enforcement expenditures, and automated fingerprint machines.
• As reported in February, Tennessee Comptrollers called out officials in Sullivan County for keeping seized property a lot longer than they should have. Specifically, authorities kept cash totaling $42,141 in a safe, with some of the evidence dating back to 2005. Auditors also called out the county’s evidence custodian for not always issuing property receipts.
• As The Tennessee Star reported, Humphreys County Sheriff’s officers took more than $16,000 in money from their Drug Control Fund and used it to pay for things they weren’t legally allowed to, according to one recent audit. This, of course, is money law enforcement officers confiscate from alleged drug crimes.
• As reported in April, Gibson’s former police chief failed to obtain a forfeiture warrant and failed to list the legal and factual basis that made the vehicle subject to forfeiture, signed by a judge. They also failed to file seizure forms with the Department of Safety and Homeland Security and negotiate and enter settlement agreements for the return of the vehicles to the owners, according to a state audit. Auditors also scolded town officials for failing to properly return, dispose of, or monitor storage costs of certain impounded vehicles at a private storage lot, which “incurred a substantial bill for storage fees.”
• Elsewhere, according to a 2015 Tennessee Watchdogreport, Morristown Police seized cars and demanded cash, which a police sergeant allegedly kept for himself — $6,000 in all.
• More recently, according to The Star, members of the Caryville Police Department confiscated other people’s guns and tried to trade them before getting the proper permission.
• Also, as reported, in 2011, the Wartburg Police Department seized a BMW sedan after arresting its owner on narcotics charges, and, according to an audit, the police captain’s wife used it at her house. Tennessee law says the captain’s wife, a reserve officer, wasn’t supposed to use the car for anything other than drug enforcement purposes.
As The Star reported in September, Tennessee’s civil forfeiture laws remain among the least protective of property owners in the nation, according to a State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
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