Grand Jury Rejects Police Chief Indictment
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- A Putnam County grand jury has refused to indict a Middle Tennessee police chief on charges that he misused government equipment.
Monterey Police Chief Kevin Phillips had been under criminal investigation for months ever since an exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation caught him shipping a government bulldozer to his own property, using money from the town's drug fund.
But even though the District Attorney General Randy York did not get enough votes out of the Putnam County grand jury to indict, there are hints that he may try again.
"The matter remains under investigation, so it would be inappropriate to make any further comment," York told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
Last summer, Sky 5HD spotted an Army surplus equipment parked on some mountaintop property in Overton County. A close look revealed fresh bulldozer tracks, along with what appeared to be recently up-rooted trees -- their leaves were still green.
That property, it turns out, is owned by Phillips.
Then-Monterey Mayor Jeff Hicks tried to claim that he had asked Phillips to take the bulldozer there just to use his personal dozer to attach the blade.
But NewsChannel 5 spotted a second piece of town equipment actually being used to hold the blade up.
And an area mechanic told us that Phillips' 63-year-old bulldozer had been broken down for at least a year.
Court records show that DA York presented an indictment on Monday, accusing Phillips of "official misconduct."
But the grand jury returned it as a "no-true bill."
Legal observers noted that York's statement did not say that the grand jury has spoken and the case is over.
They say he could have the TBI go back and do a little more investigation, to make the case stronger.
Then he can present it to the same grand jury, or just wait for another one to be impaneled this spring.
As for Phillips, he asked to be put on administrative leave back in January after it became clear that the case was going to a grand jury.
For now, he remains on administrative leave with pay.