Charges against Bradley County sheriff dropped

A special prosecutor has dismissed all 12 felony counts against Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson, who was facing trial Jan. 22 on charges of forging automobile titles, reports the Times Free Press.

After the dismissal was announced Thursday morning, Watson said in a statement he was “thankful for the words of support and encouragement for the last 18 months, when I had to face the allegations and accusations that was made against me. I have maintained my faith in the judicial system to prove my innocence.”

He added, “It is the utmost importance to me that Bradley County residents know that employees at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office have consistently provided this community great law-enforcement services throughout this ordeal.”

Watson was charged with having or using forged titles for six cars he bought in Florida and sold in Tennessee in 2016. However, Jimmy Dunn, district attorney in the 4th Judicial District, said he decided to dismiss the charges after Watson’s attorney provided proof the sheriff paid local taxes on the vehicles, a wholly new issue in the case.

Up to now, the state’s case only alleged Watson, who had a car salesman’s license, wrote in the name of the dealership he worked for after his own signature on the titles. He needed to go through the dealership because he’d already transferred the maximum number of cars he could sell without a dealers’ license.

Dunn’s statement said the “crux of the state’s case” was that after Watson brought the cars to Tennessee, he “made alterations to the titles of these vehicles and failed to pay certain taxes and fees required by law … ” He said Watson’s attorney, James F. Logan Jr., gave his office documents on Dec. 29 proving Watson paid the taxes and fees on Dec. 13, 2016.

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