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NC5 Investigates: General Sessions Court

Sheriff Disciplines Eight, Doesn't Ask About Ticket Fixers

Daron Hall, Davidson County sheriff Daron Hall, Davidson County sheriff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Eight Davidson County sheriff's employees face disciplinary action. It follows a NewsChannel 5 investigation of ticket fixing in the city of Nashville.

That investigation exposed how some sheriff's employees got speeding tickets fixed.

But while the sheriff's office did investigate, there's one big question that was never asked.  That's because, the sheriff tells our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams, he didn't want to meddle in the courts' business.

"We've amended our policy now that it strictly says that you will not avoid your responsibility to the courts nor will you assist anyone in any responsibility that you have," Davidson County sheriff Daron Hall said in an exclusive interview.

Hall says he's done his job, disciplining eight employees who were somehow involved in getting speeding tickets fixed.

But he never asked: Who was their ticket fixer?

"That may be of interest to you," Hall told Williams. "What is of interest to me is that our employees who did not take responsibility for their actions were held accountable for that."

In one case, sheriff's employee Kristie Bratcher told NewsChannel 5 that someone in Hall's department got her ticket fixed.

She told sheriff investigators it was Tom Schwarz, Hall's liaison to the courts -- and he admitted helping another sheriff's employee, Linda Winters.

Schwarz was one of the employees disciplined, receiving a written reprimand.

Read the report from the sheriff's investigator and letters of reprimand

"I think Mr. Schwarz stepped over the line because he was at work doing something in his own way out of line and he was trying to help someone. It was inappropriate," Hall said.

But Hall never asked Schwarz to identify his ticket fixer at the courthouse.

And five other sheriff's employees who refused to answer our questions got off without being asked about who fixed their tickets.

"Why not ask the question, was it someone in my department who was helping you with your ticket?" Williams asked the sheriff.

"Because," he answered, "I believe we held the individuals responsible and accountable for not having taken care of their own tickets."

And Hall argues that, compared to all the other courthouse employees and others on our list of those who got out of tickets, his office is making a stand.

"We've actually disciplined our people. You have some 13-hundred people. I would challenge you or anyone else to look and see if those 13-hundred people are going to be disciplined for what they did. I doubt it."

In addition, administrator Dan Weikal -- who got two tickets fixed -- received a written reprimand.

The rest had letters placed in their files, warning that the consequences will be much more severe if it happens again.

District attorney general Torry Johnson says he wants an audit of all the tickets we reviewed to figure out if certain people should be investigated.

The circuit court clerk, Ricky Rooker, told me he's working on an audit. But he says he's more concerned with fixing the problems than assigning blame.

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