Witnesses: Funk Never Interviewed Them After Getting Job

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Despite claims made by Nashville DA Glenn Funk, several key witnesses insist he never interviewed them while he was on the state payroll as a part-time prosecutor.

Now, even lawmakers are asking: what did he do for your money?

An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation first revealed how the longtime defense attorney arranged to have that job created for him -- two months before he took office -- to sweeten his pension and give his family health insurance.

"When I found out he was supposed to be the one handing our case, I knew he didn't do it," said Smyrna resident Harold Grider.

Grider's granddaughter and her husband -- Nicole and Jason McKinney -- thought they were in the process of a private adoption of two children in 2012.

First was the newborn, whom the family called Tatum.

"My heart felt like it was busting was busting open," Grider said, recalling the moment he first laid eyes on her.

She was joined a month later by her three-year-old brother, whom they called Daniel.

"I'd go over there every day and play. We'd get down in the floor and do things," Grider remembered.

But then after the family had cared for them for a year, they say the woman who had promised the adoption -- Murfreesboro lawyer Carla Ford -- suddenly showed up to take the kids back.

Grider recalled, "Oh, yes, I cried until there wasn't anymore tears to cry and I did everything that I could do to think of."

That's when, he says, the family discovered that Ford never actually had custody of the baby.

Tatum had been placed with her as a foster child.

A Department of Children Services investigation later concluded that Ford had pocketed more than $6,000 in foster payments while the McKinneys -- not Ford -- were caring for the baby.

 

 

Grider began pushing for her to be prosecuted.

The special prosecutor appointed to the case was Glenn Funk.

"I got paid $2,000 a month -- and that qualified me to be in the state pension system as of June," Funk told NewsChannel 5 Investigates back in January.

As Funk first told to us, that was the only case assigned to him last June when he was hired as a part-time prosecutor for the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference. It came two months before he took office as Nashville's D-A -- all part of the plan to help him boost his state pension.

So what did he do for the $4,000?

"I talked to a number of witnesses," Funk claimed, adding that he also "talked to the district attorney's office in Murfreesboro about their background because it was a case referred out of there."

Grider tells a different story.

"He did not interview any of our witnesses," the Smyrna man insisted. "I've called them and called. He didn't interview us. He didn't interview my granddaughter. He didn't interview anybody that we had on the list and we had, what, 25 or 30 names on the list to be interviewed."

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "So he was getting paid to work your case, and you never heard from him?"

"Never heard a word," Grider said.

Nicole McKinney also confirmed that the family did not hear from Funk.

As for prosecutors, the current DA in Rutherford County, Jennings Jones, told NewsChannel 5 that he did have a couple of  "passing conversations" with Funk about the case, adding: "I would not call them serious conversations."

Then, there's the DCS investigator who handled the whole case.

Department spokesperson Rob Johnson said that, after Glenn Funk was assigned the case in late June, the investigator had no contact with him that month.

In July, there were no calls either.

The next month, on August 6th, Funk did leave a voice mail, according to the spokesperson.

The next day, the investigator called back and left him a voice mail -- and that was it.

On September 1st, Funk took office -- and his part-time job as a special prosecutor ended.

Finally, on September 10th, Funk did reach the investigator for what DCS says was a 5-minute conversation to brief him on the case.

A week later, the DA's Conference submitted papers to appoint a new special prosecutor.

Last week, when current Conference leaders presented their budget to the Senate Judiciary Committee, state Sen. Mike Bell wanted answers.

"What work did he do while he was employed?" the McMinn County Republican asked. "Is there any accounting? Was there any time sheets? Was there any forms that he would have filled out to show that he actually did some work?"

Conference officials had no answer.

Bell told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "I was shocked that they didn't have the answers and they did not know it was coming."

Those questions prompted the committee to delay approval of the budget to give Conference officials a week to come up with those answers.

As the meeting adjourned, an open mike caught the reaction.

"How are we going to find that out?" one official asked.

Another replied, "I don't know, but we are going to have to, though."

Bell observed, "He received $4,000 in taxpayer money to do work and so far I've seen no evidence that he did anything in that two-month period."

Last month, as a result of the work of another special prosecutor, the Rutherford County Grand Jury indicted Ford on felony theft charges -- for taking money from the state for services she did not provide.

Ford recently pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Her lawyer, Joshua Crain, said Funk never contacted the defense either.

Asked for comment, Funk did not address NewsChannel 5's specific findings about his work on the case.

In an email statement, he replied: "I was preparing this case for presentation to the Rutherford County Grand Jury. I intended to handle this case through its completion. I had no role in the reassignment of this case. I remain willing to participate in this prosecution."

That's similar to a statement that Funk emailed to his staff inside the DA's office just before NewsChannel 5 aired the first story about his pension.

He claimed he had been preparing to present the case to the September term of the Rutherford County Grand Jury when it was suddenly transferred to another prosecutor.

That grand jury met the first week of September -- which is a week before, DCS says, Funk spoke to the investigator for the first time.

As the the children, the McKinneys were not successful in their efforts to regain custody.

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