Bill Gibson's Drug Task Force:
Working overtime selling your property to supplement their income
by c.d. norman
District Attorney Bill Gibson's 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force has used asset forfeitures to indirectly supplement the salaries of its members,  an illegal practice that has benefited personally state agents empowered to seize and dispose of private property, The Putnam Pit has found.

Bob Terry, the director of the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, writes in a letter to City Hall that funds received through asset forfeitures are used to reimburse the City of Cookeville for the overtime incurred by Cookeville officers assigned to the task force. The document was obtained pursuant to the Tennessee open-records law.

In an April 23, 1998 letter to Cookeville City Manager Jim Shipley, Terry writes, "We do overtime reimbursement when assets become available; by way of auctions, forfeitures, federal asset sharing, etc."

But section 40-33-211 of the Tennessee State Code prohibits seizures and forfeitures from being used to pay the salaries of Task Force members: "Funds derived from such seizures, confiscations and sales shall not be used to supplement the salaries of any public employee or law enforcement officer."

"It does raise an issue with me," said Richard V. Norment, director of the Tennessee Comptroller's County Audit Division. "This sounds like something that merits further looking."

Norment defined "overtime" as part of an officer's salary.

"Sounds like they're using [the auctions and forfeitures] to supplement their salary. . . A supplement's a supplement whether it's overtime or regular."

The leading beneficiary of the overtime supplement has been Task Force Director Bob Terry. Between July 1997 and January 1998 Sgt. Terry logged 255 hours of overtime, the equivalent of six additional forty-hour work weeks. Officer Terry's overtime included five hours logged on May 9, 1998 to work at an auction of forfeitured assets. In other words, Officer Terry works overtime auctioning property in order to pay his overtime.

The City of Cookeville pays city officers overtime and carries the note until the task force has confiscated enough property to have an auction, city officials contend. Some cities do not pay overtime, Terry said in the letter to Shipley.  The city bills based on the hours claimed as overtime, and the Task Force forwards the bill to the Putnam County government. When money becomes available through the auction of seized or forfeitured property, the county decides which bills are to be paid.

Here are some of the hours worked by Terry, according to files obtained through public records requests at city hall.

Bob Terry's Overtime:

Pay period ending            5/9/98

Amount of overtime            10 hours

Breakdown:     5 hours working 5/9 at the forfeiture auction; 2 hrs. 4/27; 1 hour 4/29; 1 hour 4/30; 1 hour 5/1.

Pay period ending        4/25

Amount of overtime    10 hours

Breakdown:   five hours 4/19; 1 hr. 4/21; 1 hr. 4/22; 1 hr. 4/23; 1 hr.

Pay period ending         4/11

Amount of overtime    0


Pay period ending         3/14/98

Amount of overtime        21.5

Breakdown        1.5 hrs. 3/2;  2 hrs. 3/3; 1.5 hours 3/4; 2 hrs. 3/5;
4 hrs. 3/7;

Pay period ending         2/28

Amount of overtime        39.5

Breakdown        Feb. 16, 2 hrs.; Feb.22, 4 hrs.;  Feb.23, 3 hours; Feb.
24, 2.5; Feb 28, 4 hours  March1, 4 hours

Pay period ending        2/14/98

Amount of overtime        0


Pay period ending         1/31/98

Amount of overtime        13

Breakdown         1 hr. Jan. 22; 4 hrs. on Jan. 26; 4 hrs. on Jan. 29;
4 hrs. on  Jan. 31;

Pay period ending         Jan. 17, 1998

Amount of overtime        27

Breakdown        Dec. 27, 1997, 8 hrs.;  Jan. 4., 1998, 5 hrs.; Jan.10,
4 hrs.; Jan. 15, 2 hrs.;  Jan17,  8 hours

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