So what prompted the sudden resignation of the mayor and her former bodyguard, as well as their guilty pleas to felony theft charges today?
The News4 I-Team's Chief Investigative Reporter Jeremy Finley has been working his sources for the answers.
A high-placed source within this investigation said that while today’s development may seem abrupt, the mayor’s legal team was aware for weeks that the DA's office was moving closer to pressing charges.
Here’s the backstory:
For weeks, D.A. Glen Funk has been meeting with attorneys for Barry and Forrest, according to a high-placed source involved in the negotiations.
Barry's legal team was aware of the DA's intent to pursue charges, even as she told me this six days ago
"Will you resign?" Finley asked the mayor in an impromptu interview last week.
"No," Barry replied firmly.
However, the D.A.'s Office confirmed today that Forrest was charged with theft because he was charging the city for overtime hours that he wasn’t working.
But why the theft charge for the mayor?
The source said Barry was essentially involved in the crime and knew it was occurring. They also said Funk's office has more evidence of Forrest abusing overtime than the public has seen. It is unclear if and when that evidence may be released.
The DA's Office is aware that even Metro Council members are asking for more details into what led to the mayor’s guilty plea, but so far today, members of the attorney's office are not commenting.
In response to questions posed by the News4 I-Team and other media, the DA's Office released a statement to further explain Barry and Forrest's charges:Regarding reimbursement amounts: All members of the security detail saw an increase in hours worked under the Barry administration as opposed to previous administrations. Robert Forrest’s hours increased significantly more than other members of the detail. 45,000 dollars represents an acceptable figure for his increase in hours and pay in contrast to other members of the detail. The 11,000 dollars paid by Megan Barry represents Robert Forrest’s travel expenses.
The time frame given in court today of March 1, 2016 through January of 2018 represents the approximate dates of the affair between Megan Barry and Robert Forrest.
Megan Barry and Robert Forrest entered conditional pleas, meaning that if they successfully complete probation, they could then petition the court to have their records expunged. If expunged, there would be no criminal record.
Megan Barry is eligible for T.C.A. §40-35-313 because Mr. Forrest admitted that he improperly received more than 10,000 dollars in city compensation for time he reported as work hours which were actually personal time with Megan Barry. Megan Barry’s personal time did not involve the duties of her office or her official capacity, which is why she was charged with and pled guilty to theft of property.
Megan Barry complied with the conditions of her probation by repaying the 11,000 dollar reimbursement to the city and resigning her office today. Therefore, her probation will be unsupervised, which means she will have no probation officer. Her unsupervised probation does not restrict travel within the U.S.
Following Megan Barry and Robert Forrest’s guilty pleas today, Glenn Funk met with the TBI and informed them that the investigation into this matter may be closed. By state statute, TBI investigative reports are not public records.
Steve Hayslip, Director of Communications
District Attorney General’s officeNews4 has reached out the TBI to confirm if they have indeed discontinued their investigation.
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