TN National Guard recruiters promoted despite riding in truck full of alcohol

The Channel 4 I-Team obtained dash-cam video from the car of Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Mark Miller on the evening of Nov. 29, 2013. (WSMV)

Dash-cam video and court records shows a Tennessee National Guard recruiter failed a sobriety check after driving a recruit and another recruiter in a truck filled with open alcohol.

After Sgt. First Class James Raines was charged with DUI and pleaded to a lesser offense, his fellow recruiters said he was promoted within the Tennessee National Guard.

The Channel 4 I-Team obtained dash-cam video from the car of Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Mark Miller on the evening of Nov. 29, 2013.

The camera shows after 6 p.m., Miller spotted a truck hauling a horse trailer weaving across the divider lines. He turned on his police lights.

The video shows the truck then slowed down and scraped along a guardrail, and continued to drive on.

Only after the trooper turned on his sirens did the truck pull over.

The incident report reads the driver was Raines, a recruiter with the Tennessee National Guard.

"Have you been drinking this evening? I can smell it on you,” Miller said to Raines.

On the video, Raines said he only had one beer. When the sobriety test began, Raines was unable to stand on one leg.

The trooper then arrested Raines and charged him with DUI.

At this point in the video, Raines identified two other passengers in the truck.

Miller and two National Guard recruiters confirmed that one of the passengers was an unidentified new recruit for the National Guard. The other was Master Sgt. David Cherry, who is another recruiter.

At one point, the trooper told Raines that “Cherry” told him that Raines’ mother was coming to get the truck.

In the video, Miller can be heard talking to one of the passengers, who admitted that he’d drank six beers and wasn’t safe to drive either. It is unclear if Miller was talking to either Cherry or the new recruit.

In the video, Miller can be seen having to pour out two jars of alcohol.

According to the police report, Miller found 2 ¾ quart jars of “apple pie” untaxed liquor, two empty 24 packs of beer, 1 ½ empty bottles of Wild Turkey, 1 ½ empty bottles of Aftershock liquor, two empty Bud Light beer bottles still cold, and numerous empty bottles and cans of Bud Light.

Two Tennessee National Guard recruiters, who asked us to conceal their identities, told the I-Team while they’re upset that Raines was charged with a DUI and later pleaded down to a lesser charge, what troubles them the most is that two recruiters were driving around a recruit in a truck filled with alcohol.

"That’s unacceptable," one recruiter said.

"You have two senior non-commissioned officers, that have an applicant, have a recruit in their vehicle, and they get pulled over. Don’t you think they should suffer?" the second recruiter said.

The recruits said since that incident, both Raines and Cherry have been promoted by the Tennessee National Guard.

"They had a perfect opportunity to set a new standard. ‘Hey, we're not going to tolerate this any longer, and we're going to cut them,’" the first recruiter said.

Randy Harris, spokesman for the Tennessee National Guard, refused our request for an interview, but stated in an email that the Privacy Act of 1974 meant they didn’t have to tell us how or if the men were punished.

“The National Guard is a slice of society. Occasionally, just as in the civilian populace, we have soldiers and airmen who make questionable decisions or actions. When this happens, we take appropriate disciplinary measures, pursuant to the severity of the infraction according to regulations and command policy,” Harris wrote in the email.

"They should have looked at the charges. They should have immediately removed them from recruiting,” the second recruiter said.

The I-Team also tried to reach out to Raines and Cherry for comment, but our calls were not returned by our deadline.

The I-Team filed Freedom of Information Act requests to review all of the files of all the Tennessee National Guard member we’ve been investigating to determine how or if they were punished.

Copyright 2016 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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