(Note - See also Tape Reveals Terrifying Campaign In War On Drugs)
Four Campbell County lawmen will plead guilty this week to the beating and torture of a drug dealer, and federal prosecutors will ask a judge to put them behind bars pending sentencing.
A court date for a fifth Campbell County Sheriff's Department employee accused in the two-hour attack on Lester Eugene Siler has not yet been set.
David Webber, 40, who headed narcotics investigations for Campbell County and is accused of being the ringleader in the alleged torture, is set to plead guilty today to an information charging him with conspiracy to violate Siler's civil rights.
Samuel Franklin, 42, a veteran detective at the agency and head of its D.A.R.E. program, is scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday, court records show. Rookie Deputy Joshua Monday, 24, and process server Shayne Green, 35, are expected to plead guilty Thursday, according to records.
The four lawmen and part-time process server William Carroll, 26, were named in federal informations filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court. They are accused of beating and torturing Siler, 42, last July after showing up at his house in the White Oak community to serve a violation of probation warrant.
Part of the alleged attack was captured on an audiotape after Siler's wife, Jenny, stashed a tape recorder in the kitchen. An FBI transcript of the tape revealed in chilling detail how Siler was threatened, beaten and tortured, with deputies demanding two things from him: that he sign a form to show he agreed for his house to be searched and that he turn over to them all his cash and drugs.
Attorneys for Webber and Franklin have filed motions asking federal Judge Tom Varlan to allow their clients to remain free pending sentencing hearings, which will be set after the pair enter their guilty pleas.
An attorney for Monday, who is not charged in the conspiracy but instead is accused of a separate count of pointing a gun at Siler and threatening to shoot him during Siler's ordeal, also wants his client freed until he is sentenced.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Atchley contends none of the men deserve - under federal law - their freedom.
Attorney Lee Asbury argues in his motion that Webber, who lives in Anderson County, "has no prior criminal record" and "has never missed or been late for an appointment with the U.S. Attorney."
Webber, Asbury insists, should be allowed his freedom because "he has at all times cooperated with the United States Attorney, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Justice."
Asbury's motion does not note, however, that Webber is accused in state court charges of lying to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in that agency's initial investigation of the incident.
Green, Monday and Franklin also are charged in state court with perjury. The four also face charges in Campbell County Criminal Court of official oppression. District Attorney General Paul Phillips has said state court charges likely will be dropped if the men wind up imprisoned in the federal case. Federal penalties are higher than any that might be handed out in state court, he has said.
Franklin's attorney, Andrew S. Roskind, contends Franklin only went to Siler's house at the request of Webber. Franklin, Roskind says, asked Siler's wife and son to leave the house and, along with the other four lawmen, demanded Siler sign the consent form.
"After making the request, Mr. Franklin threatened Mr. Siler with the use of a slapjack and breaking Mr. Siler's fingers," Roskind wrote. "Mr. Franklin never carried through with either threat nor did he allow one of the other four to use his slapjack or break Mr. Siler's fingers.
"Unfortunately and regrettably, although Mr. Franklin never physically harmed Mr. Siler, he failed to stop the other individuals from inflicting further harm and injury," Roskind continued.
Roskind contends in his motion that Franklin has served both Campbell County and his country - he was once in the military - admirably and deserves freedom pending sentencing because of that.
Monday's attorney, Dennis Francis, writes that his client has no prior criminal history and would agree to be electronically monitored if allowed to remain free.
Atchley counters that none of the men are entitled to freedom.
All, he wrote, will plead guilty to a "crime of violence" for which federal law requires immediate detention. The only exceptions to that law, Atchley noted, would come if the case against them was weak or the lawmen were likely to receive probation.
"The exceptions do not apply," Atchley wrote, indicating that he will indeed seek prison terms for the men.
As for Franklin, Atchley contends Franklin's service to Campbell County and the military does not set him apart from the garden-variety criminal.
"Even painting the defendant's employment history and military service in the best possible light, it seems a bit of a stretch to state that these make his personal character out of the ordinary, uncommon and rare," Atchley wrote.
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