Bradley County sheriff’s used-car sales appear to exceed legal limit [photos]

Times Free Press

Chattanooga Times Free Press | Judy WaltoN | December 4th, 2016

In August, Watson bought at least 18 cars on GovDeals.com in his own name — 11 in Miami and seven in Washington, D.C.

You might have seen some of them — a white Chevy Blazer and a white Crown Victoria parked in a field on U.S. Highway 64, red and white “For sale” signs in the windshields and a phone number to call. A dark blue Saturn and a white Impala on a gravel lot off South Ocoee Street. Or a Dodge Intrepid and an Impala on the grass outside the Benton Police Department.

As of Nov. 30, 11 of the 18 vehicles have been registered in Tennessee.

But Watson’s sideline appears to violate Tennessee law. Watson doesn’t have a dealer’s license, which is required for anyone selling more than five cars in a year. And it doesn’t appear the sheriff registered and paid sales taxes on the cars he brought to Tennessee.

Tennessee has a name for the practice of selling open-title cars on the side of the road. It’s called “curbstoning.” And it’s illegal. State law bans the practice both to protect consumers and to make sure tax is collected on sales, according to www.StopCurb stoning.com.

Also, sources in the sheriff’s office said at least one employee was paid overtime for a trip to pick up Watson’s personal vehicle purchases.

When the Times Free Press asked for the employee’s time sheet under the state’s open records law, the document was altered before it was turned over, those sources said.”

Document: Car purchases

Bills of sale obtained from Washington, D.C. and Miami officials document a number of automobile purchases by Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson. The Times Free Press redacted Watson’s home address.”