Week in Ketron: How many scandals are there again? Let's look.

Nov 07, 2019 at 11:33 am by Michelle Willard

Week in Ketron

It's been a very eventful week for Bill Ketron. In addition to his daughter being arrested for misdeeds she (allegedly) perpetrated while running his family insurance agency, he was sued for sexual discrimination.

That made me recollect all the scandals that have beleaguered the mayor this year.

Here's what I can remember, in no particular order:

1. The charges against Kelsey

On Monday evening, Kelsey Ketron was arrested on three indictments from the Rutherford County Grand Jury. The indictments resulted in more than 70 different criminal charges:

• 30 counts of Impersonating a Licensed Professional,
• 14 counts of Money Laundering,
• 12 counts of Aggravated Perjury,
• Five counts of Fraudulent Insurance Acts $250,000 or more,

• Five counts of Forgery $250,000 or more,
• Two counts of Fraudulent Insurance Acts $60,000 - $250,000,
• Fraudulent Insurance Acts $10,000 - $59,999,
• Theft of Property $10,000 - $60,000, and
• Theft of Property $60,000 - $250,000.

Here's the ironic part. Because of the extent of the charges against her, her bail was set at $100,000, but she remains in the clink.

Her attorney Trey Harwell issued the following statement:

"We are astounded that after her arrest on Monday, Kelsey remains in jail. Any speculation that Kelsey is unable to post bond for financial reasons is absolutely false. We have tried for the past two days to work with the prosecution to have her released on bond but have yet to reach an agreement. The fact that she is now spending a third night in jail is unnecessary and unfair."

When bail is more than $50,000, the state requires suspects to prove the source of the funds before a bond can be issued. But Kelsey Ketron can't get a bond hearing because the district attorney that was called in fro Hamilton County can't find his way over Mount Eagle. But he may make it in Friday but until then Kelsey has to stay at 940.

The good news is she has settled the civil case that triggered the whole scandal, her attorney Trey Harwell told The DNJ. Clients Susan and Charles Calvin sued Universal International Insurance after they discovered the policy they believed they had paid for had lapsed. At least that's over. 

2. Sex discrimination

At this point, voters should begin to question the mayor's management abilities.

On Oct. 25, former Rutherford County Recovery Court counselor Melissa Kilpatrick sued the county because she says she was passed over for promotion in favor of Rutherford County Commissioner Steve Ervin.

Mr. Ervin was one of the commissioners who voted (behind closed doors in a metaphorical smoke-filled room) to dethrone Robert Stevens from the Steering Committee back in August.

This was after "Ketron selected Ervin despite his being 'woefully unqualified for the position and both of the female applicants, including Plaintiff, who were interviewed, were vastly more qualified and better in every relevant way for the position than was Mr. Ervin,'" The Murfreesboro Post reported.

Is it a coincidence that Ervin sided with the mayor in August after getting a political appointment in the spring?

3. Campaign finance

In the midst of the insurance fraud investigation, it came to light that Ketron owed the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance $60,000 in civil penalties for filing his campaign finance reports late.

On July 24, Ketron was granted a brief reprieve when the Tennessee State Registry of Election Finance said it needs more time to look into the violations and fines. We are still waiting for the hearing to be rescheduled.

There are additional allegations against the mayor claim he spent more than $30,000 from 2017-2018 from Quest PAC and Ketron's state senate campaign for in-kind services, a campaign vehicle and cash donation to Ketron's county mayor campaign.

And, as part of the charges against Kelsey Ketron, we learned that she is accused of pilfering more than $65,000 from Bill Ketron's political campaign and political action committee from March 2016 to May 2018.

4. Age discrimination

July was a bad month for Bill.

On top of all the campaign finance stuff, he was sued by former Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services Director Mike Nunley and two others who alleged Ketron forced them out of their jobs because of their age.

Nunley alleges he was forced out during a reorganization of the county's emergency services because he is 71 years old.

"While the defendant attempted to characterize plaintiff Nunley's termination as a 'retirement,' plaintiff Nunley was told that he could take his 'retirement' or be terminated," Nunley's attorney Terry Fann told the DNJ. White and Joe Haffner are also listed as plaintiffs. Both men are 58 years old and were fired by Ketron on April 1.

5. Robert Stevens

There still remains the drama around an ethics complaint filed against Smyrna Town Court Clerk Brittany Stevens, sister of Rutherford County Commissioner and Smyrna attorney Robert Stevens.

The complaint was filed Aug. 13 by Tony Sees of Nashville with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. You can read the full complaint here or more about it here.

I just find it suspicious that right when Stevens stood up to Ketron that his sister is targeted with a complaint based on her LinkedIn page.

An Anti-SLAPP petition has been filed in that case. Anti-SLAPP laws are designed to provide for early dismissal of meritless lawsuits filed against people for the exercise of First Amendment rights.

So we'll wait to see how that pans out.

If I've forgotten any scandals, feel free to leave them in the comments. We can also do a friendly over-under for when the next scandal will erupt. Bonus points for guessing what that will be.


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