NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Friends in High Places
Sundquist Friend John Stamps Faces Sentencing
(Story created: 8/21/05)
He once enjoyed access to the highest reaches of Tennessee state government, and your tax dollars. But today, John Stamps, a close friend of former Gov. Don Sundquist, will find out how much time he'll spend in federal prison.
It all stems from our exclusive Friends in High Places investigation of state contracts.
"I accept responsibility for this unfortunate episode. I need to start the process of rebuilding my life," Stamps said back in May after he pleaded guilty to making false statements about a state contract and four counts of tax evasion.
It was a long way from the days when Stamps was cashing in on his relationship with the governor.
By prosecutors' estimates, the former Monteagle insurance agent pulled in $1.5 million dollars in lobbying fees from companies that did business with the state, plus another $400,000 from companies that he owned that received state contracts.
"From our standpoint, this is a very significant plea in this ongoing investigation," U.S. Attorney Jim Vines said at the time.
Authorities began investigating, eventually raiding Workforce Strategists, a company started by Stamps, after a NewsChannel 5 investigation revealed Stamps' ties to a no-bid contract worth almost $2 million.
Documents claimed it was the only company in Tennessee that had experience for the job, when in fact it had no experience.
Joanna Ediger, a Sundquist appointee and friend of John Stamps, is now serving three years in federal prison for her role in that contract.
"It's been a tough three years," Stamps said following his guilty plea. "This investigation has been going on for three years, and it's a long time to be under so much pressure."
Investigators have make it clear that Stamps could help himself at sentencing by revealing anything he knew about wrongdoing in his friend's administration.
But Stamps plea bargain did not require him to cooperate in the on-going public corruption investigation.
A pre-sentence report suggests that Stamps face up to two years behind bars.
But prosecutors are asking for more time, while Stamps is asking that he not be sent to federal prison at all.