Memphis City Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware has been vexed by many issues during her tenure in public life -- police-residency resolutions, management of city contracts, and the presence (or lack) of telephones in City Hall rest rooms -- but she has a brand-new concern after being designated as having offered bribes for official services in a new Grand Jury indictment.
Ware is not one of the indicted parties, all eight of whom are former of current employees of the Shelby County Clerk's office. But District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, who announced the indictments at a press conference attended by other law enforcement officials, said merely, "The investigation is continuing," when asked about Ware's potential liability.
What the councilwoman did, according to the indictments of Millicent Rogers and Patricia Reid, was offer money "to register a vehicle without the vehicle having gone through inspections required by the City of Memphis or without other proper documentation required to register the vehicle."
The sums involved were unspecified.
Besides Rogers and Reid, others indicted for similar violations were Janice Garrett, Rita Jones, Anita Porter. Three other past or present clerk's employees -- Seprice Crews, Julia Marshall, and Darlene McKee were indicted for "accepting a benefit to "run multiple transactions ... as opposed to running a fewer number of transactions at one time.'"
Among those attending the press conference, held in Gibbons' office in the Criminal Justice Center, were Sheriff Mark Luttrell, Police Director Larry Godwin, and officials of the state Department of Revenue and other official services.
Unmentioned in the indictment was Charles Nichols, former CEO for County Clerk Debbie Stamson and for the previous clerk, Jane Creson. It was public allegations that Nichols had rendered improper services that first called attention to the ongoing investigation.
Gibbons declined to answer directly when asked if Nichols was cooperating with the investigation. The D.A. noted only that Nichols wasn't named and that the investigation was continuing.
What was the dollar amount of Councilwoman Wade's bribery? Gibbons et al. answer: