Previous Community Oversight Board (COB) member Ovid Timothy Hughes somehow skirted the Tennessee Code’s standards for COB membership. Hughes isn’t a registered voter – he’s a convicted felon. That begs the question: the COB’s purpose is to ensure police accountability on issues such as misconduct, but what happens when the members themselves aren’t being held accountable?
The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office confirmed with The Tennessee Star that Hughes isn’t an eligible voter. They explained that he was purged in 2008 for a felony conviction. This corroborates with details The Star reported on Friday. Hughes was arrested and charged for mail fraud, spending over $78,000 on items such as computer equipment and designer clothing using stolen credit card and private account information from a former employer.
Tennessee Code § 38-8-312 specifically states that COB members must be “a registered voter… of the jurisdiction for which the community oversight board is established.”
In an interview with The Star, Nashville Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood expressed disappointment that better vetting measures weren’t undertaken.
“Who is responsible for verifying the individuals being appointed to this board? It brings into concern the fact that the people overseeing the day-to-day action of police aren’t complying with the rules they’re supposed to be following,” stated Smallwood. “Those are the two concerns that I have.”
When The Star reached out to COB Executive Director Jill Fitcheard, it appeared she wasn’t aware of this information about Hughes. She also didn’t know Hughes’ reason for resignation from the COB.
It is unclear if anyone on the COB knows the reason that Hughes decided to leave their board. Hughes’ resignation letter to COB Chair Andres Martinez didn’t explain his reasoning, either. Hughes emailed the letter to Martinez on February 23 at 11:05 p.m. The contents are copied below:
Chair Martinez: I am writing to inform you that I am resigning my position on the Metro Nashville Community Oversight Board effective immediately. I am eternally grateful to the members of the Board, the staff of the Board, the members of the Metro Council, & my comrades in Gideon’s Army for their enduring & unwavering support. It has been one of the great honors of my life to serve our community in this capacity. I wish the members of the Board great success as we work together to make Nashville a better & safer city for all. United In Service, Timothy Hughes.
The Star reached out to Martinez to inquire about Hughes’ background and resignation. Martinez didn’t respond by press time.
During his interview preceding his appointment last year, Hughes stated that he was a registered voter, an apparent lie. He also claimed that his father and grandfather were both members of law enforcement. Reports corroborate that Hughes made this claim on his application as well.
“My father is a retired law enforcement officer, my grandfathers were both sheriff’s deputies,” stated Hughes.
Nowhere in his interview or in any reports related to Hughes’ nomination or appointment does it mention Hughes’ criminal history or convictions.
Earlier in that same meeting, the Rules, Confirmations, and Public Elections Committee disqualified three nominees for not turning in their questionnaires on time. Hughes reportedly received the most votes from Metro City Council during appointments.
The Star also looked into the man that appears to be Hughes’ father: Ovid Eugene Hughes. The Star was unable to confirm that the elder Hughes was ever a member of law enforcement, as the younger Hughes claimed. However, The Star discovered that the elder Hughes has a criminal history as well.
From what The Star could discover, the elder Hughes was arrested at least twice for domestic violence in 2010: once in March, and once in October. He was sentenced to county jail for nearly 150 days collectively, according to booking records obtained by The Star from the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office in Rockdale County, Georgia.
The Star was unable to receive any comment or answers from Nashville Mayor John Cooper, Vice Mayor Jim Shulman, or members of the city council. We were also unable to obtain comment from the organizations that Ovid Timothy Hughes has been involved in: the Equity Alliance, Black Voters Matter, or the Tennessee NAACP who nominated him for the COB.
The Star broke the story of Ovid Timothy Hughes’ criminal record on Friday.
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