NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Friends in High Places
Stamps Sentenced to Two Years in Prison
(Story created: 8/22/05)
Monday afternoon, John Stamps, a close friend of former Gov. Don Sundquist, was sentenced to 24 months in a federal prison.
Stamps had asked for a lesser sentence, but U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell said Stamps' crimes warranted a stiffer penalty.
Before he was sentenced to the prison term, Stamps told the judge, "I don't want this moment to define my life. I want to move on in a very positive way."
After learning his sentence in a Nashville courtroom, Stamps asked Judge Campbell to order him to report to prison as soon as possible, saying he wants to get the whole situation behind him. Stamps will have to report to prison by September 22nd.
"This will pass quickly. Two years is not that long, not in my life. I'll be able to move forward with my life, my family, my friends and my community in a very productive way. It'll pass, and I'll survive it. You gotta deal with the hand (that's) dealt you, and this hand's been dealt me. I'm going to approach it in a very productive, positive manner and with a good attitude," he said.
"Mr. Stamps, in effect, lied on some significant documents going into the process of re-upping a contract he already had with the Tennessee Department of Labor, so we've got the integrity of our government affected in a variety of ways," said U.S. Attorney Jim Vines.
John Stamps' arrest stems from NewsChannel5's 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.