Ex-commissioner Called `Unindicted Co-conspirator' in Land Case - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Capitol Hill Corruption

Ex-commissioner Called `Unindicted Co-conspirator' in Land Case

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- A federal prosecutor has identified former Tennessee Economic and Community Development commissioner Bill Baxter as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in state Sen. Jerry Cooper's land fraud case.

The judge at the Morrison Democrat's trial Tuesday agreed in a ruling.

Baxter served as the state's top business recruiter in the administration of former Republican Gov. Don Sundquist and more recently was a Tennessee Valley Authority board member.

He could not be reached for comment.

Cooper has pleaded not guilty to charges of bank fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy.

Baxter was not subpoenaed to testify at Cooper's trial.

Records show Baxter sent to Cooper's attorney an April 27th letter saying he and his family were scheduled to be out of the country on a trip the first two weeks of June.

Assistant U-S Attorney Gary Humble told the judge that he could consider Baxter to be an unindicted co-conspirator.

With jurors outside the courtroom, the judge agreed to allow testimony about Baxter's role in the state approving a grant for a rail spur and an equipment loan linked to the 1999 sale of Cooper's lumber mill in Warren County.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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