Council Member: Arriola Refused Offer To Clear Up Tax Questions
Charlie Tygard, Metro Council Member
Davidson County Clerk John Arriola
By Phil Williams Chief Investigative Reporter
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- NewsChannel 5 has learned, for the first time, about an offer by leading Metro Council member to help Davidson County Clerk John Arriola clear his name. It was an offer that, the Council member says, Arriola refused.
All of this follows questions about fees that the county clerk charged for weddings he performed on taxpayer time.
Next Tuesday, the Council will vote on a non-binding resolution asking Arriola to step down. But that Council member told NewsChannel 5 that he fears the county clerk may have more than just a Council vote to worry about.
"When the government couldn't get Al Capone on any of the other actions, the IRS got him," said councilman Charlie Tygard.
Tygard was talking about all the cash that Davidson County Clerk John Arriola pocketed for weddings he performed on taxpayer time.
After questions first raised by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, a scathing audit last week concluded the amount of money Arriola pocketed could be almost $120,000 over five years.
"So why do you only take cash?" we asked the county clerk last summer.
"It's very quick, it's very easy," he answered.
Back then, Arriola insisted to us that everything was on the up and up with those wedding fees.
"I report that on my income tax," he said.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Will you show us your income tax returns?"
"I don't have those," he answered.
Tygard, who runs a tax and bookkeeping service said, "I make a living preparing taxes and keeping folks out of trouble with the IRS."
That's why, Tygard said, he offered to help Arriola to clear up any such questions -- an offer confirmed by a second Metro Council member.
"I know which lines to check, which forms to look at," Tygard recalled offering the Davidson County clerk. "I'll call a press conference and stand on the steps of the courthouse and say, 'Whatever else you might accuse this individual of, the money that has been earned has been reported and taxes have been paid.'
"And, for whatever reason, that offer was not taken."
The U.S. Attorney's Office will not say whether or not if it's working on a tax case involving Arriola.
Davidson County DA Torry Johnson has said he's reviewing the audit and the findings of a TBI investigation to see if criminal charges should be filed.
Arriola sent a letter to Metro Council members last week insisting that he has been a good steward of the public's money -- but not a single mention of those wedding fees.
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