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. 

 

 

 

      


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ANDREWS, WINDA FAYE 4902 GOLFVIEW DR CHATTANOOGA, 37411 55 Chattanooga FAILURE TO APPEAR BENN, MARCUS ANTAWAN 3216 6TH AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37407 29 Chattanooga SIMPLE ASSAULT CONTRABAND IN PENAL INSTITUTIONS BLAIS, CANE CHRISTIAN 2824 SYDNEY STREET JACKSONVILLE, 32206 21 Hamilton ... (click for more)

Former Meigs County Official Connie Allen Indicted On Theft Charge

An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of a former Meigs County interim finance director on theft charges. At the request of 9 th  District Attorney General Russell Johnson, TBI special agents began investigating Connie Allen on Nov. 24, 2014. TBI agents worked in conjunction with the Tennessee Comptroller ... (click for more)

Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mom’s Parting Instructions

My mother, Helen Exum, went to be with the Lord in late August of last year and, in the way folks do, I was going through some of her files last week when I ran across an envelope with my name on it. Inside was a story and written in her hand were the words, “This is a wonderful story for you to tell!” Not being one to disobey my mother and not about to waylay the wishes of the ... (click for more)

Southside Smacks Raiders, 13-11, On Wiley's Walk-Off Slam

Southside High School, located in Fort Smith, Ark., didn’t travel 600-plus miles to waste a scintillating comeback against Cleveland on Friday in the Pounder Classic at Central High School. Spotting the Blue Raiders a 7-0 first-inning lead, Southside tied the game in the sixth and then shocked Cleveland with a six-run rally in the last of the seventh – Tanner Wiley, breaking ... (click for more)

Tennessee Fires Basketball Coach Donnie Tyndall

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  – Tennessee has fired men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall. The decision was made based on information the university received during the NCAA's investigation of another institution. The university concluded that Tyndall will likely be held responsible for serious violations of NCAA rules that occurred during his tenure as head men's basketball ... (click for more)