Witnesses Say Gobble Was Irate Over Handling Of Case In Which His Daughter Was Victim; City Manager Says He Will "Get Problems Fixed" In Clerk's Office

Friday, September 7, 2012

Witnesses to a public confrontation between East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble and Court Clerk Joanne Thomas said he was upset over the handling of an armed robbery case in which his daughter was the victim.

One person who was present in the clerk's office Tuesday night said, "Tim was irate. He was over the top. The veins were bulging out in his neck. He leaned in, pointed his finger in Joanne's face and said, 'This case is not going to be dismissed.'" The witness said, "This is something that should have been handled in a closed-door meeting with Joanne - not out in front of everybody."

Mr. Gobble, who suspended Ms. Thomas for five days without pay, said it was "about that case and other cases. Witnesses in this case were not properly notified, and it happens all the time. The district attorney's office has complained of problems in the clerk's office, including missing files and other errors and omissions."

He said, "It is well established that the city manager is over the court clerk's office and not the judge. I'm going to get a handle on this. I'm going to get it fixed."

Mr. Gobble said the previous city manager "also dealt with problems in the clerk's office."

In the robbery case, Mr. Gobble's daughter and a male friend were walking to their vehicles in the Church of Christ parking lot at 951 McBrien Road at about 11:15 p.m. on Sunday. They said a gold Jeep Cherokee pulled onto the lot from McBrien Road and a black male exited the Cherokee, brandished a handgun, and robbed them of their credit cards, cell phones, and cash.

Ms. Gobble and her friend provided a description of a white female in the Cherokee as well as a possible license tag number.

East Ridge Police later located the gold Cherokee with a license plate that matched the description given by the victims. The vehicle was occupied by two black males, one of whom fit the suspect description, and a white female who also fit the suspect description. Recovered from the vehicle were the victims’ stolen belongings and a plastic Airsoft pistol.

Arrested were Allen Horton, 30, of 2015 Ocoee St., Chattanooga, and Brandi King, 28, of 120 Passons Road, East Ridge.

Police initially said in a press release that both were scheduled to appear in East Ridge City Court on Nov. 20 on charges of felony theft and aggravated robbery. However, the case was on the docket Tuesday night. But the two victims were not in court. Mr. Gobble said the two officers involved in the arrest were also not there because he said they had not been properly notified.

In the clash between Mr. Gobble and Ms. Thomas, she told him she had left a message on his daughter's answering machine. He responded, "That's not good enough." Mr. Gobble said the message was actually left a few hours before court on his wife's answering machine at Cleveland. He said his daughter is in school in Athens, Tn., and she gave officers her cell phone number that was not called.

Witnesses said the incident was apparently prompted a short time earlier when Ms. Thomas made a comment that was overheard by officers about certain cases should be dismissed when officers do not show up in court. One witness to that conversation said, "She was not saying the armed robbery case was going to be dismissed. She doesn't have the authority to dismiss cases. That is up to the judge. She was repeating something that (Judge) Arvin (Reingold) has said many times about officers and witnesses not coming to court."

Mr. Gobble said he was in a special called City Council meeting "when two officers pulled me out of the meeting and asked me to come to the door. They said there was a serious problem with the administration of the court clerk's office. They said there was discussion about dismissing this case and other cases."

He said he then headed directly for the clerk's office to deal with the matter.

Mr. Gobble said, "This guy is a convicted armed robber and was convicted of statutory rape. He stuck a gun in my daughter's face and her boyfriend's face. Any discussion about dismissing the case is improper and obstruction of justice."

He said, "The witness who was quoted was not authorized to be in a sensitive area of the clerk's office. That is another problem over there - incompetent people letting people who are not supposed to be back where court records and money are kept."

The robbery case has been reset for next Tuesday night.

One issue is whether Judge Reingold should recuse himself because of the involvement of the city manager's daughter in the case. 

 

 

 

      


Patten Towers Resident Charged In Wreck That Clogged U.S. 27 On Sunday

A Patten Towers resident is charged in a wreck that clogged the northbound lanes of U.S. 27 on Sunday. Melanie Evette Dobbs, 56, was charged with four counts of reckless endangerment, DUI, failure to maintain lane, violating the Implied Consent Law and failing to have insurance. Police responded to a collision at 9:45 p.m. in which a Dodge Caravan had struck a Kia sedan that ... (click for more)

Lookout Mountain Art Dealer Says Bookkeeper Embezzled Funds

Lookout Mountain art dealer Frank Fowler says in a Chancery Court lawsuit that his bookkeeper embezzled a large amount of funds. The suit was filed against Francine Labbe. Ms. Labbe has been performing accounting, financial reporting and other administrative duties at the Fowler office on Watauga Lane, it was stated. Ms. Labbe, who was paid an annual salary of $72,000, ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Knoxville’s Godsend

Back when we were uppity teenagers, the best put-down when a friend started acting crazy was to say to the heathen, “Quit acting like you are from Knoxville!” I don’t know how the term originated but I can say that back in the day it was pretty insulting to be told you were acting like you were from Knoxville. This week I wish that more of us acted like Knoxville. The Knox County ... (click for more)

Sales' Grand Slam Leads Lady Owls To 6-2 Comeback Win

Cheyenne Sales came close to hitting two home runs on Tuesday. She atoned for those close calls a day later with a grand slam in a five-run fourth inning and powered Ooltewah to a 6-2 victory over gritty East Hamilton in District 5-3A softball action at Jim Lovell Field. “That’s the first grand slam I’ve hit this season,” said Sales, who finished with five RBIs. “The pitch ... (click for more)

Red Bank's Kendall Farr Hurls No-Hitter Against Tyner

Kendall Farr was on the money Wednesday afternoon as she hurled a no-hitter and struck out seven as the Red Bank Lionettes blanked Tyner, 10-0, in six innings. Kelsey Peden and Destiny Painter both had two RBIs for the Lionettes while Hannah Wood had a triple and Sami Shrader a double.  Peden also had a double. With Farr improving to 3-2 on the season,, Red Bank finished ... (click for more)