interview with District Attorney General Gibson
why he called the TBI off Court Clerk Lewis Coomer
Gibson blocked TBI probe of Lewis Coomer's 'jailer's
SUSAN RICHARDS MICHAEL
HODGES and GEOFF DAVIDIAN
Putnam Pit staff
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -
District Attorney General William Gibson's office called off an investigation
by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into allegations that Court Clerk
Lewis Coomer illegally charged thousands of dollars in 'jailer's fees'
to state prisoners housed in Putnam County jail.
Coomer charged the fees
at least four years before the 1995 legislature authorized that $18 a day
could be levied by counties to the prisoners themselves. This fee was charged
in addition to reimbursement from the state for the cost of housing the
One day after Deputy TBI Director Rob Reeves said he would look into The
Putnam Pit's information on the subject, Reeves said that Gibson's
office reassured' him that the matter was civil, not criminal.
The TBI cannot investigate
over the objections of the district attorney.
During this same period,
Democrat Gibson authorized a TBI probe of the Putnam County's Republican
property assessor Byron Looper.
On Oct. 20, two Putnam
Pit staffers went through more than 17 years' of county records and
found no record of any action by the county authorizing such charges.
In 1992 Ronnie King was
charged $3,600 in jail fees. In April of 1996, after King allegedly complained,
Coomer credited 3,600 to clear King's outstanding balance.
The Pit: How about an interview
on Lewis Coomer's theft of money from prisoners?
The Pit: Don't you think the
people have a right to know the truth?
Gibson: I have a right not to comment.
The Pit: Why did you call
the TBI off the investigation?
Gibson: No comment.
The Pit: Why don't
you just give me an interview and answer the questions?
Gibson: Not with you.
The Pit: Why not?
Gibson: You're not objective.
Return to The Pit