Dressed in a literally baggy brown four-button seat with cuffs that buckled low and overflowed onto the floor, Love let his attorney, Brian Hoss, do all the talking for him as the two of them listened to Judge Daniel Breen read from the inductment and, later, assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza detail portions of the governments proof against Love.
The reading of the two documents and Loves appearance together created a scenario that hinted at every sordid thing one could imagine, not only about the specific crimes of bribery and extortion but about the increasingly disgraced Tennessee legislature itself.
Love had after all led the FBIs make-believe eCycle moneybags men to one of the state Senates presumed pillars, the venerable Ward Crutchfield, also of Chattanooga, whose legislative influence could be had, he told them, if they had gifts to bear..
And what the courtroom audience learned about Crutchfield, a co-defendant who has (so far) not changed his plea of not guilty, was in some ways more embarrassing to the senators reputation than the offenses he was charged with.
Crutchfield, said DiScenza, fastidiously avoided being so gross as take in the eCycle bucks he got and kept asking for with his own hands. He let his unnamed secretary do that, and when the FBIs undercover informant (presumably the now infamous Tim Willis) came inquiring as to whether the main man had got his money, she was instructed to say that bagman Love had been mighty nice to us today or mighty good to use today. On those occasions when Crutchfield himself was coaxed into saying something for the FBIs ubiquitous video- and audio-tapes, he acknowledged receipt with words like Thank you for being my friend.
Right. Some friends you got there, Senator.
But the tale of ignominy became pure slapstick when DiScenzas account got around to the part of the sage involving another co-defendant, state Rep. Chris Newton of Cleveland.
It was not just that Newton the sole Republican bagged in the FBI operation, was charged with taking the bottom-dollar sum of $4500 for his promise to expedite legislation favorable to eCycle, it developed that Love had repeatedly skimmed from Newtons payoffs, sometimes halving them. So the poor shlepper ended up, as compensation for the fate that now awaits him, with roughly enough change to run a bar bill at the downtown Sheraton in Nashville.
Afterward lawyer Hoss met with reporters and assured them, among other things, that despite what theyd heard in court, his suddenly repentant client had never done anything like this before.
Like the other defendants, who include ex- Memphis legislators John Ford and Roscoe Dixon as well as current state Senator Kathryn Bowers, Love was accused with a series of offenses against the United States. If Love turns states evidence, which seems likely, he might get off light on those charges, but his offenses against credibility will be a little harder to expiate.