Anonymous threatening letters prompt federal lawsuit against cou - WSMV News 4

Anonymous threatening letters prompt federal lawsuit against county officials

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The Cannon County courthouse (WSMV file) The Cannon County courthouse (WSMV file)
WOODBURY, TN (WSMV) -

The highest elected official in Cannon County, along with a county commissioner, are being sued in federal court by a woman who said they two conspired to silence her because of her criticism of their governing.

It follows a series of News 4 I-Team investigations that exposed how Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon, and county commissioner Adam Melton, had knowledge of threatening letters being sent to female critics of the county government.

The I-Team tracked down three women and obtained their letters, finding that they all contained personal threats using the same handwriting.

One of those women, Jan Powell, has now filed a federal lawsuit, claiming Gannon and Melton violated her civil and first amendment rights.

The lawsuit reads, “Defendant Gannon and Melton developed a plan of action to retaliate against plaintiff for her expressive activity.”

Our investigation exposed secretly recorded audio of Melton and Gannon discussing the threatening letter to Powell before it was sent.

"Something like, I can't remember the exact words: ‘If I were you, I would stay off. I'm telling you, if I were you, I’d would be quiet on Facebook,’" Gannon said in the audio.

He later can be heard saying, “She should have gotten it today, it was mailed yesterday. That's what I heard."

When the I-Team later offered to play the audio for Gannon to hear and explain himself, he said he had no comment.

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages against Melton and Gannon, and compensatory damages for Powell.

The lawsuit comes as the TBI’s criminal investigation into the letters continues. It is unclear who is representing Gannon and Melton, and our calls to them for comment were not returned by our deadline.

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