MONTEREY, Tenn. -- A witness, tracked down by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, is casting doubt on the story told by a local police chief who now faces a criminal investigation.
That probe, being conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, centers on whether the chief intended to profit when he had a piece of town equipment shipped to his property. It follows questions first raised by NewsChannel 5.
Monterey Police Chief Kevin Phillips has claimed he had a government surplus bulldozer shipped to his own mountaintop property in rural Overton County so that he could use his own bulldozer to work on it. And the town mayor, Jeff Hicks, backed him up.
"Kevin was going to put it together because he had a dozer on his property," Hicks told the Cookeville Herald-Citizen. "The blade is so big, (the city) doesn't have anything that'll lift it."
But Putnam County resident Steve Bullock told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that Phillips' bulldozer was almost unusable.
Bullock runs a little Putnam County repair shop, where he fixes all sorts of heavy equipment. He told us the chief's bulldozer had been sitting on his property for a long time.
"He just called me and asked me if I'd work on it, then he brought it down here," Bullock said.
So what did he find when he got into it?
"Well, couldn't get parts," Bullock said.
"Well, it was a 1949 model."
"Yeah, and it's just hard to find parts for it."
That's right -- the bulldozer that was supposedly going to used to work on the massive piece of town equipment was a small, 63-year-old Caterpillar that Bullock said wasn't worth much.
"The springs were broke," he recalled. "If you go to pushing, then the motor would fall down."
Bullock said that, after searching for months, he gave the chief an idea about where he might find some parts.
But Phillips "never showed up."
In fact, our investigation discovered that Phillips had the surplus bulldozer shipped to his property, then he brought in another piece of town equipment to lift the blade into place. Our Sky 5 video also shows what appear to be fresh tracks all across the chief's land.
Bullock said the chief's bulldozer had been sitting on his property for a year.
In fact, Bullock said the chief didn't bother to come to get his old 1949 dozer until after we began asking questions. We later found it parked on the property where we had first spotted the government surplus equipment.
Still, Bullock is skeptical that the chief can do much with it.
"Could his bulldozer have been used to knock over trees?" we asked.
"Not like it was," the repairman answered.
A TBI spokesperson said that the agency's investigation is continuing, although Bullock said he had not heard from the agent who has the case.
As for Chief Phillips, NewsChannel 5 reached him again by phone. He continued to insist that he had done nothing wrong, then he hung up.
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