Operation Tennessee Waltz was a sting operation set up by federal and state law enforcement agents, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The operation led to the arrest of seven Tennessee state lawmakers and two men identified as "bagmen" in the indictment on the morning of May 26, 2005 on bribery charges. The FBI and TBI followed these arrests with an additional arrest of two county commissioners, one from Hamilton County, and the other a member of the prominent Hooks family of Memphis. Investigators also arrested a former county administrator.
From East Tennessee
* William Cotton -- Hamilton County County Commissioner member, Chattanooga
o Sentenced to 3 years in the Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution, 3 years probation, and a fine of $9,500 on May 2, 2006
* Ward Crutchfield -- State Senator, Chattanooga
o Pleaded guilty to one count of bribery in July 2007
* Charles Love -- Hamilton County school board member and lobbyist, Chattanooga
* Chris Newton -- State Representative, Benton
o Sentenced to 1 year in prison in early 2006
From West Tennessee
* Kathryn Bowers -- State Senator, Memphis
o Pleaded guilty to one count of bribery July 16, 2007
* Roscoe Dixon -- Former State Senator, Memphis
* John Ford -- State Senator, Memphis
o Convicted of bribery in April 2007
* Michael Hooks, Sr. -- Shelby County County Commissioner, Memphis
o Pleaded guilty to one count of bribery August 21, 2006
* Barry Myers -- Memphis
* Calvin Williams -- Former Shelby County County Administrator, Memphis
Ford, Bowers, Cotton, Dixon, Hooks, and Crutchfield are Democrats; Newton and Williams are Republicans.
The execution of the operation
According to the FBI and TBI, all who were indicted were suspected of corruption in the past, so law enforcement had sufficient probable cause to proceed with an investigation.
In 2003, federal agents approached the legislator posing as representatives of E-Cycle, a bogus company supposedly based out of Atlanta that disposed of outdated electronic equipment. They asked the lawmakers to support legislation that would advance the company's business in Tennessee. All who were arrested agreed to do so if they were to be paid for their introduction of legislation in the Tennessee State Legislature. John Ford supposedly said, "I'm the man who makes the deals."
Over the course of two years, E-Cycle legislation made its way through Tennessee state government and almost passed, even though E-Cycle did not exist at all. On May 24, two days before the arrests, State Representative Newton voted to table the House bill in question, thus stalling it in committee.
Those who were arrested took bribes from E-Cycle in different amounts. The largest bribe was $55,000, which was taken by John Ford. Other lawmakers took bribes anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000. Barry Myers and Charles Love were to be the bagmen for the operation. In other words, they would take the money from E-Cycle and give it to the lawmakers, so that no one could potentially see the lawmakers being directly paid by E-Cycle.
In addition to bribery, Ford also faced charges of witness intimidation. During a visit by the disguised federal agents, Ford allegedly said, "If you're FBI, I will shoot you and kill you." Ford's lawyer, however, has argued that, taken in context, the statement was clearly a joke. Overall, Ford faced the most serious charges of anyone indicted in the operation and was convicted in April, 2007. (For more information on John Ford's troubles with the law, see John Ford.)
In the May 26 edition of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, an article appeared about Charles Love, reporting that he owed almost $300,000 in back taxes and that the Internal Revenue Service had placed liens against his home. The article also mentioned E-Cycle in passing, as if it were a real company, possibly at the request of the FBI or TBI, to help confirm E-Cycle's seeming legitimacy.
Source: Wikipedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tennessee_Waltz