Timeline: 10 Years of 'NewsChannel 5 Investigates' - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Timeline: 10 Years of 'NewsChannel 5 Investigates'


Here is a listing of major events -- investigations that made a difference and won national awards -- from the first 10 years of NewsChannel 5 Investigates:

1998:  NewsChannel 5 Investigates brand is born.  First investigation details inattentiveness of security guards in state buildings.

1999:  Investigation gains national attention, catches Feed the Children employees stealing from the charity's Nashville warehouse. Local manager later pleads guilty to theft charges.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates exposes convicted felons working in Midstate schools. Tennessee lawmakers pass legislation making background checks mandatory for all school hires.

Investigation raises questions about case against death row inmate Philip Workman, including recantation of key witness. Courts put execution on hold for eight years.

2000:  NewsChannel 5 exposes Metro Nashville vice officers working off-duty for strip club and uncovers allegations about a police major's intervention in criminal cases.  Major is disempowered, subsequently retires.

2001:  NewsChannel 5 reveals problem of school bus drivers with histories of drunk driving. Lawmakers later make it illegal for someone convicted of DUI or related offenses to receive license to drive bus for five years.

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) association awards its highest honor, the IRE Medal, for police investigation. Contest judges call it "an outstanding example of dogged local reporting" despite threats to chief investigative reporter Phil Williams and his family.

2002:  "Friends in High Places" investigation exposes no-bid contracts given to friends of Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist. FBI and TBI later open criminal investigation.

Investigation reveals Davidson County Clerk Bill Covington's use of Metro employees to make beer runs and to work in his private business.

NewsChannel 5 wins court victory when Davidson County judge refuses to order Williams to reveal sources for police investigation, which had been sought by lawsuits filed by two subjects of investigation.

2003:  Hidden-camera investigation catches lawmakers accepting favors from Capitol Hill lobbyists and reveals state Sen. Jerry Cooper's use of position for land deal.  TBI opens investigation of Cooper's role.

Investigation reveals UT president John Shumaker's use of state aircraft, acceptance of cash from contractor in prior job and other questionable behavior. Shumaker resigns.

Consumer investigation exposes "get-rich" Village Life scheme.  State shuts down Smyrna operation.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates team are only broadcasters -- network or local -- to receive a national George Polk Award, given for "Friends in High Places." IRE Award recognizes Sundquist investigation, as does Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award and National Headliner Award.

2004:  Investigation uncovers audiotape in which leader of Brentwood church encouraged severe discipline of child before his child-abuse death. Police later raid church offices.

NewsChannel 5 reveals awarding of hundreds of millions of dollars in road contracts with no competing bids. Legislature reforms law that barred local governments from finding lower-cost options.

Former Sundquist administration official Joanna Ediger convicted and sentenced to three years in federal prison for helping rig contract for governor's friend, John Stamps.

Highly coveted duPont-Columbia University Award (considered similar to Pulitzer Prize) recognizes "Friends in High Places" investigation.

IRE Award honors lawmaker and Shumaker investigations that "changed the face of Tennessee."  Sigma Delta Chi Award also received for Shumaker investigation. Selected as finalists for Harvard's Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting for Sundquist, Shumaker and lawmaker investigations.

2005:  NewsChannel 5 discovers evidence of state Sen. John Ford profiting from position and from campaign funds.  Senate Ethics Committee opens unprecedented investigation. Ford resigns, after indictment in FBI's Operation Tennessee Waltz.

Investigation uncovers tape from deadly school bus crash -- and a real-life test of seat belts on school buses.

Sundquist friend John Stamps pleads guilty and is sentenced to two years in federal prison for contract fraud.

Prestigious George Foster Peabody Award (also compared to Pulitzer Prize) honors "Friends in High Places" investigation.

2006:  NewsChannel 5 uncovers neglect inside Tennessee's nursing homes for veterans, leading to state and federal investigation of conditions.

Investigation reveals questionable sales and loan tactics inside Bill Heard Chevrolet dealership in Antioch.  State opens investigation, and Bill Heard closes dealership.

Investigation exposes systemic problem of ticket-fixing in Nashville courts. Judges pledge to fire any court employees caught getting tickets fixed.

2007:  Sen. Jerry Cooper acquitted on bank fraud charges stemming from land deal. NewsChannel 5 examines bank records introduced at trial, leading state regulators to open new investigation over misuse of campaign funds.  Cooper resigns.

NewsChannel 5 exposes lengthy delays in how Metro's 911 center dispatches ambulances. 911 director disciplined, later resigns.

Hidden-camera investigation catches Army recruiters urging mentally ill to lie about their condition. Congress calls for investigation, and Army disciplines four Middle Tennessee recruiters.

Investigation raises questions about effectiveness of type of smoke detector found in most homes.

Tennessee Court of Appeals strengthens protections for journalists, as result of lawsuit filed by subject of police investigation.

Sundquist friend Al Ganier pleads guilty to federal misdemeanor for deleting computer files relating to contracts investigation.

National Edward R. Murrow Award, National Headliner Award and National Press Club's Consumer Award recognize investigation of Bill Heard Chevrolet. American Legion bestows Fourth Estate Award for veterans home investigation, which also receives Sigma Delta Chi Award. National Emmy awarded for "The Ticket Fix."

Philip Workman executed.

2008:  Investigation discovers continuing sexual assaults on Metro special-education buses.  Mayor intervenes, and school board eventually votes to place monitors on buses.

NewsChannel 5 reveals state is issuing handgun permits to convicted felons.  Department of Safety revamps procedures and opens criminal investigations of felons who received permits.

Investigation discovers inappropriate remarks by Metro 911 calltakers, gaining national attention.  Mayor replaces interim 911 director.

Hidden-camera investigation catches Davidson County General Session judges leaving people waiting, while they work second jobs or tend to personal errands. Court employees also working at a judge's house and fudging on time cards. Court of Judiciary opens investigation of judges.

Investigation shows dangers of toy-like cigarette lighters.  Lawmakers ban sale of such novelty lighters.

National Clarion Award honors "Dishonorable Deceptions" documentary about Army recruiting.

Chief investigative reporter Phil Williams elected to national board of directors for Investigative Reporters and Editors.

More on 10 Years of NewsChannel 5 Investigates

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