UPDATE: Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson's court date rescheduled
Watson, booked into his own jail, is now back on the job following the indictment after posting a $30,000 bond.
UPDATE: A court hearing for Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson, who was indicted on 12 felony charges of holding vehicle titles that had been forged or altered, has been delayed until next month.
The original trial date set for Watson had been scheduled for Monday. It has been reset for Dec. 21.
Watson allegedly bought 11 used police vehicles at government auctions out of state to sell in Tennessee, where the maximum he could sell without an auto dealer's license was five.
Watson has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, James F. Logan Jr., argues the state hasn't offered any evidence that the sheriff violated state law and has challenged the constitutionality of the state law under which Watson is charged.
PREVIOUS STORY: Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson has waived his right to an arraignment hearing and has requested a "speedy trial."
His court date has been set for November 27.
PREVIOUS STORY: Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson was booked Friday morning following a grand jury indictment on six counts.
Channel 3 has learned that Watson is now back on the job following the indictment after posting a $30,000 bond.
Watson issued a statement following his indictment Friday, which reads:
For more than a year, I have confronted numerous accusations from some who desire to have more control over county government and the operations of the Sheriff’s Office. I have cooperated with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and responded to anyone who has requested information from me which related to the questions which have arisen.
To my knowledge, I have not been questioned about the accusations which are contained in an indictment which I have not seen.
There are two very important messages I want the employees of the Bradley Count Sheriff’s Office and the people of Bradley County to know.
- The leadership team and every employee of the Sheriff’s Office will assist me as we continue to provide the best services possible to insure the safety and property of all citizens and visitors.
- I will continue to cooperate with the proper authorities and respond appropriately to the allegations which have been made. I will waive arraignment, speedy trial and advise the court that I plea Not Guilty to the accusations.
District Attorney General James B. Dunn from the Fourth Judicial District has been assigned to prosecute the case against Watson and Senior Judge, Don Ash, will be the trial judge.
The following is a press release from Dunn's office:
Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.
PREVIOUS STORY: A judge from the Nashville area has been assigned in the case against Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson.
Judge Don Ash from Rutherford County confirmed he has been named the special judge.
The sheriff's office told Channel 3 prosecutors presented evidence against Watson to a grand jury on Wednesday, but it's still not clear what charges he may face.
Possible misuse of county credit cards and alleged abuse of power are some of the allegations facing Sheriff Eric Watson.
Bradley County Commissioner Dan Rawls filed complaints with the district attorney's office, which launched a TBI investigation.
"Well, it's very concerning because I mean this is a person that was given the highest level of public trust," Dan Rawls, a Bradley County commissioner said.
Bradley County's District Attorney General Steve Crump recused himself because Watson contributed to his run for office.
Sevier County's District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn was the one to present the TBI's findings to a jury on Wednesday.
The sheriff's attorney, James Logan, said Watson did nothing illegal.
"Sheriff Watson has denied any wrongdoing and does not believe he has violated the law," James Logan, Sheriff Watson's attorney said.
It's not clear if the grand jury chose to charge Watson.
"An indictment is merely an accusation. Sheriff Watson does not yet know what those accusations are if there are accusations," Logan said.
"If this has proven to have been committed, he should face the same justice as anyone else. That's the realism of it. That's where we are. I don't want to see that anyone is giving leeway just because of an elected position," Rawls said.
The sheriff's office told Channel 3 that Sheriff Watson was unavailable on Thursday.
Stay with WRCBtv.com for more details on the grand jury's decision.