Joint TBI, FBI Operation Results In Indictment, Arrests Of 10 East Tennesseans On Forgery, Lien Charges

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A year-long joint investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Knoxville Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has resulted in a 320-count indictment, and the arrests of 10 individuals on charges of unlawfully filing liens and making false entries into records. Multiple other state, county, and local law enforcement agencies also participated in the arrests. 

At the initial request of 7th District Attorney General Dave Clark, in May 2016, TBI special agents began investigating reports that, over a period of several years, multiple individuals from East Tennessee had filed Uniform Commercial Code liens and financing statements with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office in Nashville. The liens were filed against dozens of different individuals across the state, encumbering their property. The liens were filed in the amounts of $4-million to $12-million. The victims who had these liens filed against them range from citizens employed by government entities, police officers and attorneys, to elected and appointed officials, including city and county mayors, sheriffs, and members of the judiciary.

The case was ultimately assigned to a special prosecutor with the Davidson County District Attorney General’s Office. On Jan. 24, the Davidson County Grand Jury returned indictments charging multiple individuals with a combined total of 320 counts of two charges; Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, which is an E Felony, and Forgery $250,000 or more, a class A Felony. On Wednesday, simultaneous arrests of these individuals in Anderson, Cocke, Greene, and Knox counties were conducted by law enforcement officers with TBI, FBI, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Departement of Safety and Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Knoxville Police, Knox County Sheriff, Morristown Police, Anderson County Sheriff, Cocke County Sheriff, Newport Police, Greene County Sheriff, Jefferson County Sheriff, Oak Ridge Police, and Oliver Springs Police.

The individuals were transported to Davidson County and booked into the Davidson County Jail. Those arrested as a result of these indictments, their charges, and bond amounts are below. One individual named in the indictment has not yet been arrested.

Michael Robert Birdsell, 54, Andersonville – 8 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 8 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $150,000.

Austin Gary Cooper, 68, Clinton – 10 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 10 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $150,000.

Lee Harold Cromwell, 67, Oak Ridge – 14 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 14 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $150,000.

Victor Douglas Bunch, 72, Powell  – 17 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 17 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $150,000.

Christopher Alan Hauser, 51, Del Rio – 21 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 21 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $150,000.

Ronald James Lyons, 52, Newport - 30 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 30 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $150,000.

James Michael Usinger, 64, Greeneville - 22 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 22 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $150,000.

John Jeffrey Williams, 50, Powell – 3 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 3 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $25,000.

George Edward Williams, 76, Powell – 3 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 3 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $25,000.

Kenneth Ray Foust, 73, Clinton - 3 counts Draw a Lien without a Legal Basis, 3 counts Forgery $250,000 or more. Bond $25,000. (Currently in custody in the Anderson County Jail).


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