Hidden Cameras Catch Court Employees Goofing Off - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: General Sessions Court

Hidden Cameras Catch Court Employees Goofing Off

Judge Casey Moreland Judge Casey Moreland
Moreland gets help at house from Probation Officer Scotty Yates Moreland gets help at house from Probation Officer Scotty Yates
Probation officer Jimmy Waggoner, with golf clubs Probation officer Jimmy Waggoner, with golf clubs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- NewsChannel 5 Investigates hidden-camera investigation raises the question: What were some court employees doing when they didn't know anyone was watching?

Our exclusive investigation first caught some Nashville judges off doing other things -- when they were supposed to be in court.

It turns out, some court employees seem to have the same attitudes about working for taxpayers. And get this: it may have been going on for a long time.

Our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams has some tough questions for the employees and their boss.

As the judge over the General Sessions drug court,  Casey Moreland depends upon his probation officers to help keep the people who come before him honest.

And it's his job, the judge insisted, to keep his employees honest.

"If they work at my pleasure. If I hire them and I can fire them, then I should be the one to supervise them," Moreland told Phil Williams.

Yet, what we discovered from watching probation officers Jimmy Waggoner and Scotty Yates raises questions about who's watching out for taxpayers.

"Are you ticked at your employees?" Williams asked Moreland.

"Absolutely," the judge replied.

"Are you ticked with yourself?"

"Absolutely. Both."

Waggoner did not want to answer Phil Williams' questions about his time sheets -- like the day Waggoner claimed he worked a half day, then took four hours sick leave.

But we watched his drug court vehicle all day long -- and it never left his house.  Then, just before 2 p.m., the probation officer returned home -- with his golf clubs in hand.

"Does golfing make you feel better?" Williams asked Waggoner.

"I don't have anything to say," the probation officer answered.

Williams asked Moreland, "So where was the supervision on that day?"

"Well, I can't supervise my employees when they're not at work," the judge said.

Then, there was the day that Moreland admits he knew Waggoner was at home digging up a water line in his front yard. The time sheet he gave the judge listed it as a sick day.

"Were you just sick of working for taxpayers?" Williams again pressed Waggoner.

"I have no comment, Mr. Williams."

Moreland said, "He marked it as a sick day as opposed to an annual day. He should have marked it as an annual day. He made a mistake. Did I look at that piece of paper when he turned it in? No."

And there were other days when Waggoner's time sheet claims he was working, when he was actually running errands and doing all sorts of things other than work.

"You can't keep a record like that-- you've got to be truthful on the record," Moreland said.

"Does this say something to you about his truthfulness?" Williams asked.

"It makes me think, yeah."

Williams also confronted Scotty Yates. "We've seen you at home by 1:30 or 2 o'clock some days that you've said you put in full days."

"I can't talk to the media," the probation officer responded.

So what about the days when Yates claimed he was working. We twice spotted the probation officer out riding his Harley when his time sheets showed he was at work.

"Should I have checked his leave slip? Yeah, I should have," the judge said.

Then, Williams had some questions for the judge. "Do your employees ever work at your house?"

"No," Moreland answered, before suddenly changing his answer. "Like I may go work at their house, like you do with friends? I'm sure."

"During government hours?"

"No, I wouldn't think so."

But our hidden cameras caught Yates at the judge's house on Sept. 16th -- during court hours -- hauling off what appeared to be junk from his garage.

"He wasn't there to do that, but I asked him since his truck was there if I could throw -- they were just blocks about that big," Moreland said.

"So why was he at your house?" Williams asked.

"You know I don't recall. I've got a truck. I don't need people to haul things off for me."

On that day, Yates did take a half day's leave -- although Moreland now says he Yates never went to work at all.

And, it turns out, he was also there another day -- on Sept. 2nd -- as the judge was pulling up some old shrubs from around his house.

"He came by my house when I was there pulling up shrubs. He just jumped in and helped," Moreland acknowledged.

"And he was on city time -- he did not take that day off," Williams noted.

"Well, he should have."

"But you're the one supervising whether he does or not."

"I understand. He should not have claimed that time. They have never been able to claim that time. They have never been allowed to claim time that they are not at work."

In fact, there have been questions about Moreland's probation officers -- especially Waggoner -- going back a decade, according to memos written by the head of Metro's probation office.

"It is apparent that they consider this work part-time," one reads. Another calls them "nothing more than personal valets to an elected official" -- something that the judge denies.

The head of Metro probation actually filed a complaint with the court that regulates judges, the Court of the Judiciary. But that court decided not to pursue it.

That's when the judges here ordered the head of probation to stop watching Judge Moreland's probation officers.

"Are you the best person to supervise them?" Williams asked.

"I will be from this day forward," Moreland insisted.

And the judge promised that images of his probation officers doing other things on court time will be a thing of the past.

"As long as I've got Phil Williams around town to look over my shoulder, I'm sure you won't be doing a story on this again."

The judge says he's docking his two probation officers a week's pay or vacation.

But get this: he says they weren't completely wrong. He says General Sessions probation officers -- who supervise people convicted of crimes -- aren't really expected to work a full schedule when judges are off for things like judicial conferences.

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