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Jury declares open season on killing crooked cops
Thursday, November 12, 2009 1:29 PM
John Lee, executive producer of Hollywood award-winning Pirate News TV at PirateNew.org
Friday, November 13, 2009 1:51 PM
Quote:A former Roane County judge captured on videotape taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks is blaming his estranged wife's affair with a woman for his foray into public corruption.
Thomas Alva Austin, 58, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to forcing kickbacks from men he handpicked to head up a traffic school and probation office, contends it was his second wife's fling with a woman that drove him over the legal edge.
"Mr. Austin was quite distraught, sought medical help for depression and was prescribed anti-depressants," defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs wrote on behalf of the former Roane County General Sessions Court judge. "Additionally, he began drinking heavily despite earlier struggles with alcohol."
Austin was first appointed to the Roane Sessions Court bench in 1978 by then-Gov. Ray Blanton, who would himself wind up imprisoned for corruption.
Austin has admitted taking roughly $14,000 in kickbacks in a six-month period in 2005. He was accused of using his position as judge to extort a portion of proceeds from two driving schools in Roane County and a private probation firm.
The judge had essentially handpicked the directors of the traffic schools, where Austin also sent driving scofflaws for remedial instruction at $50 a pop, and the probation office.
Gibson alleged in an affidavit that Austin had been extorting kickbacks for a decade and collected as much as $100,000. The document also included allegations that Austin regularly smoked marijuana - at least once while en route to a judicial conference.
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