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The FBI has arrested a Tennessee Republican lawmaker and his former chief of staff after being charged with an alleged bribery and kickback scheme.
Former Tennessee state Rep. Glen Casada, 63, and his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, 35, were indicted on Monday by a federal grand jury for allegedly engaging in a fake mailing program to constituents designed to enrich themselves, Fox News reported.
In February, former state Former Rep. Robin Smith pleaded guilty for her role in the scheme and agreed to cooperate with the government.
“I intend to cooperate fully as a witness with the federal government and do whatever I can to assist the government in this regard,” she said.
Timeline of events leading up to Rep. Glen Casada's arrest @wdefnews12 @wtci @newschannelnine @WCTE @WBBJ7News @WLJT @WJHL11 @6News @wbir @EastTennPBS @wvlt @WKNO_TV @3onyourside @WSMV @NC5 @NicolleDWallace @AC360 @GayleKing @NorahODonnell @JudyWoodruffhttps://t.co/rZFAk8oVmt
— Ludvig (@elvondrake) August 23, 2022
The Department of Justice announced the indictment on Tuesday.
“Tennessee State Representative Glen Casada, 63, of Franklin, Tennessee, and his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, 35, of Nashville, were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday and charged with conspiracy to commit the following offenses: theft from programs receiving federal funds; bribery and kickbacks concerning programs receiving federal funds; honest services wire fraud; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Both were arrested at their homes this morning by FBI agents and will make initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge later today,” The Department of Justice said in a press release.
The announcement was made by Mark H. Wildasin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
“The 20-count indictment, unsealed this morning, also charges Casada and Cothren with using a fictitious name to carry out a fraud; theft concerning programs receiving federal funds; eight counts of money laundering; six counts of honest services wire fraud; and two counts of bribery and kickbacks,” it said.
“According to the indictment, beginning in and around October 2019, Casada, while representing Tennessee House District 63, Cothren, and another conspirator, also a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, engaged in a fraudulent scheme to enrich themselves by exploiting Casada and the other conspirator’s official positions as legislators to obtain State approval of Phoenix Solutions as a Mailer Program vendor to provide constituent mail services to members of the Tennessee General Assembly. Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator further sought to obtain State funds for Phoenix Solutions, Casada’s political consulting business, and a political consulting business owned by the other conspirator. It was further part of the conspiracy for Casada and the other conspirator to enrich themselves by obtaining bribes and kickbacks from Cothren, in exchange for securing the approval of Phoenix Solutions as a mailer program vendor,” The Department of Justice said.
“The indictment alleges that Casada and the other conspirator told members of the Tennessee General Assembly that Phoenix Solutions was run by an individual named “Matthew Phoenix,” an experienced political consultant who had previously worked for a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. In fact, Cothren operated Phoenix Solutions, and Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator knew that “Matthew Phoenix” was a fictitious person and secretly profited from the fraudulent venture. Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator concealed their involvement in Phoenix Solutions by submitting sham invoices to the State of Tennessee in the names of political consulting companies owned by Casada and the other conspirator, for the purpose of secretly funneling money from the State to Phoenix Solutions through the bank accounts of these companies. In 2020, these companies and Phoenix solutions received approximately $51,947 from the State in payments associated with the mailer program,” it said.
“The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation in which the United States seeks to recover all proceeds of the crimes, including a money judgment representing the value of the proceeds traceable to any offense of conviction.
“If convicted, Casada and Cothren each face up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors,” it said.