TANNER INDICTED FOR BRIBING JUDGE PEETE

TANNER INDICTED FOR BRIBING JUDGE PEETE

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William B. Tanner, whose flamboyant and contentious business career has earned him considerable time in courtrooms over the years, has now earned his second felony indictment -- this one for bribing the late Chanellor Floyd Peete in connection with one of the several lawsuits Tanner was involved with.

Tanner and co-defendant Beverly Davis, a financial consultant, were indicted by the Shelby County grand jury on Thursday and are free on $6,000 bond each after voluntarily surrendering to custody on Friday.

"This kind of crime attacks the integrity of our judicial system," said District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, who congratulated the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for its work in the case. Gibbons said he had asked the TBI to conduct an investigation in May of 2003.

The indictment focuses on Peete's favorable 2001 ruling for Tanner in litigation brought against him by Jerry W. Peck, Tanner's former partner in the billboard business, one of several fields in which Tanner -- an entrepreneur in broadcast advertising and automobiles, as well -- had overnight success.

According to the indictment, Tanner and Davis "did unlawfully and intentionally offer, confer, or agree to confer a pecuniary benefit to influence the opinon, judgment, or exercise of discretion" of Peete in the case.

Tanner, who has been battling cancer in recent years, was sentenced to federal prison in 1985 after pleadig guilty to mail fraud charges and filing false income tax returns. He was also the defendant in several other lawsuits by former associates, besides the one pressed by Peck.

Chancellor Peete died unexpectedly while on a visit to Florida, where he owned real property, in 2002.

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