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NC5 Investigates: Policing For Profit

Monterey Police Chief Faces Possible Firing

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By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

MONTEREY, Tenn. - Monterey Police Chief Kevin Phillips will face a hearing next week to decide whether he should be fired.

Phillips has been under criminal investigation ever since last summer after NewsChannel 5's "Policing For Profit" investigation exposed his use of town equipment on his own land.

Now, the town's current mayor has had enough.

Monterey Mayor Richard Godsey filed a notice of charges last week, accusing the chief of obstructing an investigation into his use of town equipment, even creating bogus documents to cover his trail.

At the center of the controversy is a government-surplus bulldozer that, our investigation discovered, was shipped to this mountaintop property in rural Overton County -- using money from the town's drug fund.

That property belongs to Phillips, who has been Monterey's chief for three years.

Former Monterey Mayor Jeff Hicks originally claimed that he asked the chief to take the bulldozer there to lift the blade into place using his own bulldozer.

"So why would you approve government property being sent to private land?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Hicks back in June 2012.

"I told you I'm not going to interview with you," Hicks responded.

But Sky 5 HD spotted another piece of town equipment being used to hold the blade up.

We also spotted fresh tracks and overturned trees, suggesting that the dozer had been used to clear the chief's land.

"His dozer was in the shop getting repaired," Hicks claimed at the time.

"So how was he supposed to work on this government dozer?"

"It was on its way back."

That's when Phillips, according to the notice of charges, began falsifying documents.

A lease agreement, dated May 24, 2012, purports to be a deal to allow Monterey police to do "long-range firearms training on Phillips' property."

The new mayor says that agreement for the use of the chief's land was actually drawn up and back-dated after the chief had already been caught.

District Attorney General Randy York presented a case to the grand jury back in February, accusing Phillips of "official misconduct."

The grand jury refused to indict.

But the DA says the investigation is continuing. leaving open the possibility that this case could end up before another grand jury.

The final decision on Phillips' fate will rest with Monterey's civil service board.

According to the notice, Phillips may be required -- as a town employee -- to answer any and all questions that the board might have about his use of town equipment.

But, because his testimony is being forced, it's unlikely that anything that he says there could be used against him in court.

Phillips has been on administrative leave -- with pay -- since January as the case headed to the grand jury.

The mayor says the chief has refused to meet with him to discuss his return to work and other matters.

Efforts to reach Phillips were not successful.

E-mail: pwilliams@newschannel5.com

View Monterey's notice of charges, lease agreement

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