Skip to comments.Newton to plead guilty in 'Waltz' probe
Posted on 08/29/2005 2:57:55 PM PDT by SmithL
MEMPHIS Tennessee state Rep. Chris Newton will plead guilty to taking bribes from undercover FBI agents in exchange for legislative favors, his lawyer said Monday.
A plea hearing for Newton was set for Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla.
"Hes going to be pleading guilty as charged," said defense lawyer Thomas Greenholtz of Chattanooga.
If McCalla accepts the plea, which is expected, Newton will become the first state lawmaker charged in the Tennessee Waltz investigation to admit guilt. Two men described as bag men for lawmakers have pleaded guilty.
Newton and four other current or former lawmakers are charged with taking payoffs to help a company called E-Cycle Management get favorable legislation passed in the General Assembly.
The lawmakers have all pleaded innocent.
Greenholtz declined to say why Newton, who sponsored the E-Cycle legislation, decided to change his plea.
"Representative Newton is going to issue a statement to the press following the hearing," Greenholtz said.
The charges against Newton carry a maximum punishment of 25 years in prison plus fines of $500,000, though federal guidelines would call for a much lighter sentence.
"He has no agreement on a sentence with the prosecution," Greenholtz said.
Court documents filed by prosecutors have indicated the investigation is ongoing and more charges could be filed.
Newton, R-Cleveland, said Sunday that he intends to resign from the Legislature by Nov. 1. When making that announcement, Newton, 34, said he did not intend to change his plea of innocent.
Newton was indicted along with Chattanooga lobbyist Charles Love and accused of taking $4,500 in bribes. They were charged with extortion and bribery conspiracy.
Love pleaded guilty Aug. 16 to passing along payoffs to Newton and to Sen. Ward Crutchfield, D-Chattanooga.
Also indicted in the corruption investigation were Sen. Kathryn Bowers, D-Memphis; former Democratic senators John Ford and Roscoe Dixon of Memphis and Barry Myers, a Dixon associate.
Myers pleaded guilty Aug. 1 to delivering payoffs to Dixon and Bowers.
Love and Myers are scheduled for sentencing in February.
A defense lawyer said in court last week that Dixon was undecided if he will go to trial. Ford, who resigned from the Senate after his indictment, also is charged with threatening a federal witness.
Trials for Tennessee Waltz defendants are expected to begin in November.
Tennessee Waltz Ping
OK ... I'm starting an over/under line out at six months probation and $500 fine.