This interview between Putnam Pit editor Geoff Davidian and former informant John Wayne Dedmon was tape recorded last year. A copy of the tape has been turned over to The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility. This interview is unedited and was transcribed by Bev DeGenova
Conversation in progress when tape begins:
(Geoff) . . .they've got a Sheriff. . .who's a Detective. . .what's his name?
(John) . .Doug Burgess.
(Geoff) Doug Burgess.
(Geoff) . . And?
(John) He's the best detective they got.
I mean he's practically the only real detective they've got. I mean he's
the only one really, basically, ever saw . . . and you know, . . a good
detective. But Burgess is the best that they've got. He's the only detective
I think probably, . . .thirteen years, something like that.
(Geoff) Now, during the course of your
relationship with the D.A., did you do honest. . .uh, . . informing for
him? Where you didn't lie?
(John) Some of it was, some of it wasn't.
(Geoff) Okay. What . . to the machine.
. .some of them were truthful right?
(John) Some of them were. . some of them
(Geoff) How many weren't?
(John) I'd say, half and half.
(Geoff) Is that right? Now how would the
D.A. know this? How would the D.A.'s office know. . .there's some tapes.
. .you would . .
(John) . . with the tapes.
(Geoff) Now these tapes come from where?
(Geoff) How did you make them?
(John) With a mini cassette recorder, just
(Geoff) Okay and what . .what was said
on the tapes?
(John) What I was doing, the kind of game
I was playing, what time it was. . .
(Geoff) Oh I see, it's just you talking?
(Geoff) Now you said things that didn't
(Geoff) I see, alright. But you didn't
have anybody else on the tape?
(John) Some of the people in the store.
(John) where everybody. . .
(Geoff) There wasn't anything where say,
'where's my money?', 'here's the money'? You didn't have anything that
. . .
(John). . . not . . nothing to amount to
(Geoff) But the D.A.'s told . . .the D.A.'s
office told the targets that he had the tape?
(Geoff) And you didn't let him hear 'em?
(John) Evidently not, because they all
copped a plea.
(Geoff) Now did you ever see any of those
people since then?
(John) Yeah, I went to one of them.
(Geoff) And you told 'em?
(John) I told 'em.
(Geoff) And what'd she do?
(John) She asked me if I would talk to
her attorney. And I told her yeah. There was nothing never said about it.
(Geoff) Who is she? What is her name?
(John) Shirley Sisco.
(Geoff) And where is she at?
(John) . . .(unclear)
(Geoff) Alright. Now did they know that
you were the one who. . .
(Geoff) . . had the . . (unclear)?
(Geoff) Who else did you not give an accurate
(John) Like I said, about half of them
I don't remember exactly which ones. I would have to look at the cases
. . .
(Geoff) Now when you said. . .now when
you say that they didn't know. That all they had to do was listen to the
tapes, you said on the tapes, you were saying something that weren't true.
(Geoff) How would they know that? How would
they know whether what you said is true or not?
(John) All they would have had to done
was . . tapes. .the tapes that was good, where I did get good payoffs,
where the businesses were paying off, were good tapes. The other tapes
where I wasn't getting payoffs, . . .the tapes were no good.
(Geoff) What do you mean they weren't any
good? You couldn't hear anything?
(John) You couldn't really hear anything.
You couldn't really make . . .
(Geoff) So you had the . . . make the good
tape or bad tape?
(Geoff) Well how come you made a bad tape
(John) What do you mean a bad tape?
(Geoff) . . you couldn't hear him.
(John) . .uh, there weren't no bad tape
to it. You could hear him clear as a bell.
(Geoff) On the tape that you have of .
. him and Gibson?
(Geoff) How come John Roberts said he couldn't
hear it? And . . everybody else said you can't understand who it is? I
haven't heard it.
(John) Well, John Roberts number one, never
listened to it.
(Geoff) He said he did. He told me he did.
(John) No, he never listened to the tape.
(Geoff) I talked to him specifically about
(John) The day that I was . . . to Nashville,
he stepped aside and let another person that works in his office take .
. . and he never heard the tape that I had.
(Geoff) Okay, what did he have, a second-hand
one, or third, or fourth. . .
(Geoff) Do you still have the original
tape. Where is that?
(John) In safe hands.
(Geoff) Let's hear it.
(John) There was another guy there when
that conversation took place. And then this conversation was ending, there
were two guys . . .
(Geoff) Who was the. . what did he want
to do to. . . how did he want you to set him up? Anything in particular?
(John) It didn't matter.
(Geoff) He says 'I've got a problem'. .
.want to set him up, for what? What was the problem?
(John) You know, the way that I figured,
he was a thorn in their side.
(Geoff) That's it?
(Geoff) Now that's pretty general isn't
it? . . In other areas, well let's start again. Why did he want those poker
machines busted? Did he think that they were all paying out?
(John) . . .the way they do it. . is people
call them, you know, and say like you got a woman that's got three or four
kids, and her husband gets paid on Friday. He goes and spends his whole
check, staying at the poker machine.
(John) She gets pissed off. She goes to
the D.A.'s office in return. You know, you got your hypocrites that call.
You got your church people that call about them.
(Geoff) Okay, but my question is this.
Why not just go after the guilty ones?
(John) They don't look at it like that.
They hit every place that's got them.
(Geoff) Why? Is. . for political advantage
or for the money?
(John) Well, for both, you know.
(Geoff) How many times have you met Bill
(John) Several times.
(Geoff) Like five?
(John) More than that.
(John) Somewhere around there.
(Geoff) And the last time was what, a year
(John) The last time. . . the last time
that I talked to Bill Gibson, was October the 27th, 1997.
(Geoff) . . get your money?
(John) I didn't get my money.
(Geoff) That's when Coomer took your money?
(Geoff) That was all a scam isn't it?
(Geoff) It's try to get people to jump
through the hoop.
(John) He told me on the tape. . .didn't
take the tape player with him, . . .thinking he was going to say anything
about doing any work for him. That wasn't the purpose of taking the tape
player. The purpose of taking the tape player down there with me was to
make sure that he didn't gyp .me out of the money that he owed me. In return,
. . .this is an undercover operation that nobody knows nothing about. Nobody
knowed who I was. It happened in . . . County. Now in return, how does
. . . find out I'm getting $1,200 from the D.A.'s office and he garnishes
it. Not a little of it, but the whole thing. You understand what I'm saying?
(John) He garnishes the whole thing. I
mean, it's ludicrous. It's ridiculous.
(Geoff) Any of those cases brought in Putnam
(Geoff) Well how does he get it then?
(John) Exactly. Bill Gibson caught him
and told him that I was getting this money and then he wanted him to garnish
it and .pay it on the cases. . . .
(Geoff) Now have you done. . done time
in Putnam County jail?
(John) I done five months.
(Geoff) Okay, did they charge you per diem?
(John) What do you mean?
(Geoff) Did they make you pay every day
you were there?
(Geoff) When were you there?
(John) . . .May, June, July, August, September
(Geoff) And you were . . felony?
(John) Five felony charges all reduced
(John) I guess for if they ever wanted
to use me again they could. Wouldn't you say?
(Geoff) I don't know. What. . .what were
(John) Worthless checks. All of them were
(Geoff) Did you have to give restitution?
(Geoff) How much?
(John) I think about $4,000.
(Geoff) Did you pay it off already? Huh?
How much did you pay?
(John) I paid. . about $2,000 I guess.
(Geoff) That's not bad. Well you know you're
in jeopardy. . . .
(John) Well basically I got served a subpoena
Wednesday night at 10:30 at . . . and then Friday I'm in the process of
moving, and .TBI agent Bob (?) . .comes through the alley and he points
me out to another agent who's in the car with him. And I got a witness
to that, you know, a girl that goes to church with . . .
(Geoff) And what does she say?
(John) She's seen 'em. I mean she was right
there. She seen 'em.
(Geoff) She's seen them what?
(John) Pull into the alley. . .where we
was parked at, at the house. And look at me now. Tell me what reason does
. . . have there? Again, because he's the one that arrested Byron, you
know. What would he want to look at me and point me out for? I have a real
bad problem with that.
(Geoff) Well everybody's got that problem.
(John) Just like I have a problem with
Bill Gibson when they garnished that money, taking my name down and putting
my mother's address on all them cases. And putting them in their case files.
You know, as far as anybody bothers me . . .
(Geoff) Why'd they do that?
(John) I don't know why he done that. To
this very day.
(Geoff) Now did he do that? Or somebody
in his office did it?
(John) Well. . . somebody in his office.
(Geoff) . . he's responsible.
(John) He's responsible. He's the Attorney
General, you know.
(Geoff) What other kinds of crimes. . .or
what other people do you know that have lied for Bill Gibson, to get convictions?
(John) I know a couple of them.
(Geoff) Who lied? And does Gibson know
(John) Yeah, he knows.
(Geoff) Who are they?
(John) Randy Eldridge.
(Geoff) Randy Eldridge.
(John) I'd rather not say one boy's name.
(Geoff) Who's Randy Eldridge. . ? What'd
he. . .
(John) He's an informant.
(Geoff) What's he do?
(John) He worked for .me . .
(Geoff) With the . . . ?
(John) No. . .
(Geoff) And they you set people up or you
said that you got drugs from people you didn't get them from?
(Geoff) Because why? Which people? Why
particular. . .
(John) . . they wanted numbers. When the
. . .comes down, you know? . . .people we got, more money we made, and
the better they look.
(Geoff) How much more money he'd make,
then the better they look. And then they got money for the drug. . .
(Geoff) Did the cops get vehicles from
people who didn't have them . . who didn't have anything to do with it?
(Geoff) Do you know the names of people
who . . were. . .were seized based upon. . .
(John) I'd have to go and sit down and
look through the cases I made . . .informed on . . to set here and tell
(Geoff) Okay, but you're sure it's happening?
(John) Oh yeah, I know it's happening.
That's why Randy took a half a kilo of cocaine from him. They left a whole
kilo of cocaine with him overnight. The . . . this has been a while back.
They left a whole kilo with him to see if. . .to try and set up a . . reversal?
(John) And uh, so when the guy didn't show
up, they told him well they said, 'well you go ahead and keep it here and
that way if he comes, he's see that you've got it, you know and you don't
have to call us and have us come back out and bring it to you'. . blah,
blah, blah. Well, when they left, they took half of the kilo, and cut it
off and . . . with baking soda. Well they figured out when he done that,
they. . . could. Because they's afraid that if they'd done something to
him, it would take the case they'd already made for him, you know. Sure,
I never claimed to be no angel. Never will be. You know. I done bad just
like a lot of them. . over half the people in the world. But, don't believe
everybody . . .everybody to believe. . .don't . . .that he's an angel.
Because he's not. He's far from it.
(Geoff) Who are you talking about? Gibson?
(John) Gibson, . . . you know. . .
(Geoff) Isn't there enough real crime,
for them to just go and get the guilty people?
(John) Crime in essence, you know they
look at crime, and they think they have a gang problem, I mean. I'd sure
like to know where it's at. You don't have drive by shootings in Cookeville.
I mean, you don't have no . . . you don't have it nowhere in this district.
. . .got a worse drug problem than Clay County, or . . . County.
(Geoff) Why are you saying gangs? Do you
think the gang problem is something he's making up?
(John) They make it bigger than what it
(Geoff) What'd you think. . .
(John) They got a bunch of kids that are
in school, and you know, and they're in a click, you know, 9 or 10 or 15
of them get together and they wear a certain colors. Now they don't have
the problems that Atlanta has. They don't have the problems that Chicago
or Los Angeles. This you know. . .it's what they lead everybody to believe.
You know, the older people, you know.
(John) It's unbelievable.
(Geoff) How did you end up living at .
. . . house?
(John) Uh, back in December of last year,
I was living in Oakland County with my girlfriend. We got into it. I moved
out. I didn't really have anywhere to go and he rented rooms out and he
rented me a room.
(Geoff) This was after you gave . . .the
tape? Did you sell him the tape?
(John) I didn't sell him nothing. He just.
(Geoff) I thought he was offered to buy
it for $1,000.
(John) No. He was. . . there was no money
touching my hands. He didn't. . .he didn't give me no money. Anybody says
that he handed me a $1,000, can't nobody say that.
(Geoff) Okay. Did any money go from Byron
to somebody. . .any other place in exchange. . for the day?
(John) What I'll say is, is that . . they
got to paying . . he got what he wanted and . . .
(Geoff) . . and you got what you want?
(Geoff) So it was a deal for the tape?
You struck a deal for the tape?
(John) I offered the tape and somebody
offered to buy it. I offered it for nothing. Somebody offered to buy it.
(John) The tape. Byron not one time offered
to buy it from me. Byron knew his . . . and I offered to give it. . and
somebody said 'no, I'll buy it'.
(Geoff) Jerry, Jerry wanted to buy it.
Jerry wanted to buy it because he needed it himself, to protect himself,
(Geoff) Alright. But you're telling me
that that tape is an honest tape. . .
(John) Yeah. . .
(Geoff) . .and it purports to be Bill Gibson.
(John) I'll tell you what. . . my Mama
is kinda of well off, and she said the same day, that she would pay to
have it took apart. She'd pay to have it analyzed, you know. . .
(Geoff) What happened to Jerry Burgess.
. .when he paid for that tape . . appear that he has some . . .I guess
lawyers pay for that stuff. . .
(John) Well, the law paid for it. What's
(Geoff) They can't pay . .they don't have
to pay for it. They . . uh, they can just take it from you.
(John) No, they won't take nothing from
(Geoff) Well they would.
(John) No, they won't take it. Because
they won't find it on me or . . .
(Geoff) What I'm trying to say is that
if they could, they would. Whereas Jerry can't, he's got to buy it.
(John) When push comes to shove. . .
(Geoff) Why did Jerry want it?
(John) He wanted it because he said he
(Geoff) Because they were trying to get
(John) I don't know about that, but he
said he needed it.
(Geoff) For? Because he was going to run
(John) No. That never come up. That subject
never come up. I don't, you know, that . . .politics never . . .
(Geoff) Okay. .Burgess just gave you a
thousand bucks for the tape.
(John) He didn't give me nothing. Somebody
counted out a thousand dollars, I walked into the office. When I walked
back in there it was gone.
(Geoff) In Burgess' office? Who was there?
(John) There was me, Jerry, Byron, John
Allen and another guy.
(Geoff) Who's the other guy?
(John) A friend of mine. They never handed
no person who took. . .
(Geoff) Did the friend of yours get the
(John) I . . uh, all I know is I walked
into the office, counted the money that was laying on the desk, and . .
.my friend was in there when I walked out. And when I left. . .
(Geoff) Let's cut the bullshit man. .the
other guy. . the other guy received the money that was on the table. .
(Geoff) Alright? . . .any money?
(Geoff) Okay. Now why did they want it?
(John) Because they had heard, you know,
that they're getting . . money. Byron . . so on and so forth. And they
was going to go to whatever length it took to get it.
(Geoff) You mean, Jerry wanted it to protect
(John) . . it shows the people how Gibson
really is. Well I'll say this about it. The guy that was in the office
with me and Jerry's was there when the take was made. And he . . Bill Gibson
owed him too. But he's got a letter from Bill Gibson, . . .see the thing
that's odd about it, they had us up here working undercover, all over his
district. And not a one of us with a driver's license.
(Geoff) And what. . you were driving?
(John) Yeah, all three of us.
(Geoff) Did they know that?
(John) Yeah, they knowed that.
(Geoff) They know you didn't have a license?
(John) Yeah, they bought us a car.
(Geoff) They bought you a car?
(John) The T.B.I. did.
(Geoff) Who's got it now?
(John) Oh God, that car's been gone. .
(Geoff) What'd they take it back at the
(John) No, un-uh.
(Geoff) They bought you a car for this
one bust? Or for the drug stuff?
(John) For the drugs.
(Geoff) Why are they gonna buy 'em for
you, if they can use 'em. They can use the seized ones.
(John) They bought us a car, they gave
the boys money to go buy it, he went and bought it. . .register it in his
name. And then you go.
(Geoff) How did he know that they knew
that you didn't have driver licenses?
(John) Well hell, they checked. They do
background checks. They know who don't have driver license. They know that
. . .
(Geoff) How do you know they know that?
You're assuming that they know that.
(John) When they fill out a form on you,
you know, asking you all your information, is there a blank and blank.
(Geoff) What do they give them cash? Or
give them money out of a checking account?
(Geoff) Where'd the cash come from?
(John) Out of the drug funds.
(Geoff) They don't have . . .drugs. . .they
don't have cash, they have a check.
(John) They have cash.
(Geoff) They have cash? How much was it?
(John) They gave me $400 for an old car.
(Geoff) Uh-huh. And how much drug dealing
did you guys bust?
(John) Oh God, we bought drugs all the
time. I mean I couldn't sit here and tell you how many . .
(Geoff) Did you ever use drugs with any
law enforcement officer?
(Geoff) In the course of . . . the . .
times that you were taking down people?
(Geoff) Did you ever see that they busted
drugs and some of it was missing by the time it got locked up?
(Geoff) They skimmed it? Who did? T.B.I.
or Drug . . .
(Geoff) T.B.I. did.
(Geoff) They were using it?
(John) Uh. . .I don't know exactly what
they was doing . . .
(Geoff) Tell me in how much quantity we're
(John) Uh. . .
(Geoff) Just grams. . .or are we talking
about half . . .
(John) It depended on what we was buying.
Sometimes we'd buy ounces. Sometimes we'd buy half ounces. Sometimes we'd
buy, you know, . . . cocaine. . . it just really . . depends. . .
(Geoff) And . . generally some of it'd
be gone, by the time it was all . . .and it was gone because somebody.
. .some batch . . person. . .
(John) We were buying steroids. . this
one guy that was . . buying . . he was a bodybuilder, and every time he
bought from this boy, he would say an undetermined amount, you know, that
way he'd get what he wanted.
(Geoff) Well how do you know how much it
was? How do you know that it was. . .
(John) Well hell, I seen that many bills.
I seen that many bottles there. The kind that shoot into your arms you
know. I seen all that, you know. If there was six bottles there on my kitchen
table, you know. . .
(Geoff) You know Bob Terry
(John) Yeah, I know Bob Terry.
(Geoff) You ever had any dealings with
(John) Him and the Director of the Task
Force, . . yeah.
(Geoff) Did he work? I mean was he . .
.was he hands on involved with everything?
(John) I never seen him. He never went
out with us. He was an office man.
(Geoff) But he was in the office when you
(John) Not all the time.
(Geoff) Because he's always putting in
a lot of overtime.
(John) . . .it was.
(Geoff) Yeah, so would I. He plays golf.
Did you ever see golf clubs in his office?
(John) I've seen 'em in his car. He's got
golf clubs there. We're three and a half miles from the square.
(Geoff) . . (unclear).
(John) I've never seen him put in those
kind of . . . he never went out and . . .
(Geoff) Did you have an opportunity to
work with all the other agents?
(John) I worked with just about everybody
(Geoff) But never Bob Terry (?).
(John) I broke in half the agents they
(Geoff) How long did you work with them?
(John) I worked with T.B.I. off and on
for ten years.
(Geoff) Did you know anything about a guy
that. . .the guy that was beaten with Gibson holding the machine gun?
(John) With Gibson holding the machine
(John) I heard something about it.
(Geoff) What did you hear?
(John) I heard that's basically what happened.
I didn't hear no more than that.
(Geoff) You didn't see it?
(John) I didn't see it.
(Geoff) You know who the guy is?
(John) No. I heard that he was holding
the machine gun up to his head. That's what I heard.
(Geoff) Is that right? That's . . .
(John) They've got all kinds of . . .guns
down there. They got fully automatic weapons that would . . .
(Geoff) You ever see these guys hopped
up? Using coke or anything, when they're on duty?
(John) Can't say that I have, cause I haven't.
(Geoff) You haven't? Okay.
(John). . I worked with longer than I ever
worked with anybody, was Rich (?) . . he was one of the finest agents you'd
probably ever want to meet. And he's one of the best drug agents they ever
(Geoff) He was on the drug task force?
(John) No, T.B.I.
(Geoff) He got fired, didn't he?
(John) Yeah. He was the agent there that
walked up after the conversation with Bill Gibson.
(Geoff) And what does that mean? 'He walked
up after the conversation. . . ' He's on the tape?
(John) . . .you can just barely hear him.
(Geoff) You know that some people, they
told you don't fuck with. You . . .so you don't. . .you know who not to
set up? Or do they tell you who to go after?
(John) . . (unclear).
(Geoff) Who don't you set up?
(John) Jack Phillips. . .the Mayor of Monterey.
(Geoff) Yeah. . .
(John) The Ex-Mayor of Monterey's son,
that I busted.
(Geoff) You busted him, you weren't supposed
(Geoff) How's that happen?
(John) . . he was fixing to go to trooper
school. And I was setting out at the park one night, and he wanted to sell
me some (?). . well hell, I bought it cause that's . . anyway.
(Geoff) Now did you carry a badge, or how'd
you do it?
(John) No, I never carried no badge.
(Geoff) Well how do you bust somebody?
(John) I make the case and they go indict
(Geoff) And even though you're not supposed
to, why did they do it? He's not protected then?
(John) What do you mean?
(Geoff) It's not like. . . I think Butch
Morris testified that sometimes somebody. . bust you, then before they
could get there, the guy. . .somebody'd tell them, they were coming to
get them. That some people were protected. That they just wouldn't get
busted because somebody on the inside would let them know. . . okay? Well,
why did they bring a case against this guy, if he was protected?
(John) Oh, he got pre-trial diversion.
(Geoff) How much weed?
(John) I was buying. . . I ended up buying
three or four times by him, and he was fixing to go to trooper school.
And. . .Mayor at that time in Monterey, and then when they busted him,
they . . he got his truck back. I mean, it's all on . . .
(Geoff) Can you buy drugs from Jack Phillips?
(John) Can I buy drugs from Jack Phillips?
(John) I don't know whether I could now
or not. I kind of doubt it. But when I was told to stay away from him,
you know, I took it that I probably better stay away from him.
(Geoff) Now if I wanted to try that, if
I wanted to go in with a microphone or something, I'd have to have an introduction
with somebody, don't I?
(John) Basically, yeah.
(Geoff) I've heard he is so blatant, in
his dealing. Why is he protected?
(John) I don't know. . you . .you got somebody
who's been in business as long as he has and you know, and . . and the
Chief of Police works for him.
(Geoff) You mean as .. . in the city capacity?
(John) Yeah. And all the other . . there
ain't none of them going to bother you, you know. They bother him, a trooper
bothers him. . .I mean. .
(Geoff) . . about T.B.I.? T.B.I. go after
(John) They don't want him.
(Geoff) Why don't they want . . I thought
they were looking for big names. . .
(John) They ain't gonna . . they ain't
gonna risk nobody, you know, not . . cast the doubt on them.
(Geoff) They've got .Byron Looper. . .
if that's the case, if you have that mentality, why did they get Looper?
(John) Why'd they get Looper? They don't
like him. . .
(Geoff) You think they'd send him to the
chair because they don't like him?
(John) I mean if they were to . . .(unclear)
(Geoff) I don't have any idea. But I mean
not knowingly, because somebody knew that they were innocent and sent him
anyway because they were too stupid to solve the crime. That's a real statement.
You know. . .they . . .(unclear) . . (tape ends)
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