Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson now faces 12 new felony counts

Times Free Press

Chattanooga Times Free Press | Judy Walton | APRIL 22ND, 2017

“A Bradley County, Tenn., grand jury indicted Sheriff Eric Watson on 12 new felony charges Wednesday, as two state agencies continue investigations into Watson and the operations of his department.

The grand jury charged Watson with six counts each of holding an altered, forged or falsified vehicle title and using an altered, forged or falsified title. They are all Class E felonies, each punishable by one to six years in prison and fines of up to $3,000 upon conviction.

Watson’s attorney said the new counts are a reformulation of charges brought against the sheriff in July after a Times Free Press investigation into Watson’s side business as a used-car salesman. Those original charges — six counts of holding or using a title that had been forged or altered — will be dropped.

The newspaper investigation published in December described how Watson bought used cars in Florida and Washington, D.C., and brought them to Bradley County for private sale even though he didn’t have a dealer’s license. It raised the question as to whether Watson registered the cars in Bradley County and paid local sales tax on them before reselling them.

The 12 new felony charges all relate to six vehicles the Times Free Press discovered that Watson bought and resold.

Attorney James F. Logan Jr. said the superseding charges were aimed at clarifying what he called “duplicity” that potentially could lead to non-unanimous guilty verdicts against his client.

After an investigation by the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the grand jury in July charged Watson with six counts of knowingly holding or using forged or falsified car titles…”

“NEW CHARGES

The Bradley County grand jury indicted Sheriff Eric Watson on two counts for each of six vehicles he bought out of state and resold in Tennessee:

* 2002 Crown Victoria

* 2002 Dodge Stratus

* 2005 Chevy Impala

* 1999 Dodge Stratus

* 2001 Chevy Blazer

* 2002 Dodge Stratus

Source: Bradley County court records”