Feds Unseal Grand Jury Indictment
The sealed federal indictment against Brian “Wormy” Hodge and Betty Hawkins that was
brought by a grand jury in Knoxville and filed in the United States Eastern District Court of Tennessee on February 7 was unsealed on Monday.
It charges both defendants with one count of conspiracy to buy votes and 13 counts of vote buying. Count One said, “The Grand Jury charges that from on or about an unknown time in 2014 and continuing on or about August 7, 2014, Betty Jane Best, also know as Betty Hawkins, and Brian Keith Hodge, also known as “Wormy,” did knowingly and willfully conspire and agree with one another, and with others, known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to violate a law of the United States, that is 52 USC 10307 (c), in that they agreed to pay and to offer to pay persons for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate, and in furtherance of the conspiracy, members of the conspiracy committed the overt acts of providing money to one another for the purpose of paying persons for voting, and did pay and offer to pay persons for voting as more particularly described in Counts Two through Fourteen, the allegation of which are incorporated herein, all in violation of 18 USC 371.
The following 13 counts of the indictment charge that Hodge and Hawkins “on or about August 7, 2014, aided and abetted by each other, paid and offered (names of 13 persons receiving money) for voting in an election held in part to elect a Member of the United States Senate, in violation of 18 USC 2 and 52 USC 10307 (c).”
Each of the 13 counts listed a different name of an individual whose vote was allegedly bought and paid for.
The Senate race referred to on the ballot was the seat incumbent Lamar Alexander was defending. So was U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann.
The August 2014 election brought wins to Randy White as sheriff, Mayor Tim Yates, county
commissioners Wanda Alexander, Marty Allen, Gudger Bill Bivins, Harold Hawkins, Mitch Ingram, Richard Kirkland, Bennie Moser, Bill Shadden, Paulette Summey, and Roger Thomas, county school board members Larry Stein, Dewitt Upton, Marsha Standridge, and Jo Cagle, and constables Charles Kennedy, Tommy Jones Sr, Teddy Waters, and Marty Jenkins.
Also elected were Criminal Court Judge Sandra Donaghy, who defeated Judge Amy Reedy,
and District Attorney General Steve Crump, who earlier bested Steven Hackett in the primary
election. Unopposed and reelected in August were Registrar of Deeds Millie Estes, County Clerk Larry Sloan, Road Superintendent Steve Teague, Clerk of Courts Marty Cook, Trustee Marna Hull, Circuit Court Judge Andrew Freiberg, Sessions Court Judge Dwaine Thomas,
Public Defender Richard Hughes, State Senator Mike Bell, State Representatives Jimmy Matlock and John Forgety, and Governor Bill Haslam.
Hodge and Hawkins made initial appearances in district court before Judge Clifford Shirley on
Friday, pleading not guilty to the 14 counts but gaining release without bond.
Trial for the two defendants was set for 9 a.m. on Monday, April 24, in Knoxville.