FBI Arrests Tennessee State Rep On Bribery And Conspiracy Charges

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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The FBI arrested Republican Tennessee state Rep. Glen Casada and his former chief of staff Tuesday morning over alleged bribery and kickback conspiracy.

Casada, 63, and Cade Cothren, 35, are both charged with conspiracy to commit theft on programs receiving federal funds and bribery kickbacks concerning programs receiving federal funds, the Justice Department reported. They are additionally charged with honest wire services fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Casada, along with Cothren and another unnamed conspirator, allegedly ran a sham constituent mailing service called Phoenix Solutions to “enrich themselves” by providing services to the Tennessee General Assembly, according to the Justice Department. The state representative and the other conspirator obtained bribes and kickbacks from Cothren in exchange for securing the approval of the mailing service.

The conspirators allegedly told the Tennessee General Assembly that Phoenix Solutions was run by a fictitious individual named “Matthew Phoenix,” according to the Justice Department. The three “secretly funneled” money from the State of Tennessee to Phoenix by sending “sham invoices” in the names of companies owned by Casada and the other conspirator.

The companies allegedly received $51,947 from the State that had been placed into the mailer program, the Justice Department reported. (RELATED: Former Puerto Rico Gov. Arrested For Bribery)

Casada and Cothren could face a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted of their crimes, according to the Justice Department. The case is currently under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Justice Department said they are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

The indictment followed a slew of grand jury subpoenas in March, according to the Tennessean. The FBI raided Casada’s home in January 2021.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a Republican, testified before a grand jury earlier this year, the outlet reported. He said Tuesday that “public corruption” by state lawmakers will not be tolerated.

“In Tennessee, we will not tolerate public corruption, defrauding our state, or bribery at any level,” Sexton said. “I commend the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its hard work, diligence, and dedication that resulted in this morning’s arrests. As I have previously stated on several occasions, shortly after becoming speaker in 2019, I began assisting the federal authorities during and throughout their investigation — including leading up to today’s indictments, and I will continue to do so if a trial is needed.”

“Together, our legislative body has stood strong over the past two years to take significant actions during this investigation by passing laws to strengthen campaign finance regulations and new ethics laws for elected officials and staff,” he continued.

Sexton and several legislative officials were subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury March 28 in regards to former Rep. Robin Smith’s indictment for wire fraud, the outlet reported. In November 2019, Cothren allegedly texted Casada a link to the mailing service’s website.

Casada formerly served as the state House Speaker before resigning in 2019 over allegedly sending racist texts to Cothren.