In three years, former Nashville mayor Megan Barry’s plea of guilty in court will be erased.
Not from the public’s memory, but from the public record.
As part of her plea deal, her crime can be expunged from the court system.
Yet state law 40-35-313 reads that a criminal offense can’t be expunged if it’s committed by an elected official if it occurred during the person’s official capacity or involved the duties of the person’s office.
Former U.S. Assistant prosecutor Alex Little said the law had a clear intent.
“We should hold elected officials to a higher standard in their official capacity,” Little said.
When Barry answered questions from the I-Team six days before her resignation, we asked it was inappropriate for her former bodyguard, Rob Forrest, to have charged all that overtime to accompany her to parties and concerts.
“When I'm out, I'm working all the time,” Barry said.
Less than a week after that interview, Barry pleaded guilty to felony theft and had to pay back $11,000; that’s the amount prosecutors said the city paid for Forrest to be with her when she wasn’t working, especially on some occasions traveling out of state.
In an email to the I-Team, district attorney Glenn Funk wrote that’s exactly why Barry scored the expungement deal.
“Since the factual basis of this offense was that it was personal time, the offense was not committed in her official duties or capacity.”
Bottom line: even though she once defended Forrest’s overtime billing saying she had an aggressive agenda, she ultimately pleaded guilty because Forrest billed on her time off.
"The difference is, when she assisted in this theft, she wasn't acting as the mayor. She was acting in her personal capacity,” Little said.
As with all people who are eligible for expungement, Barry has to stay out of trouble for three years.
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