The Pop Shop Gang has pleaded not guilty to the host of crimes they were charged with earlier this month.
Yesterday morning, the three appeared in the Eighth Judicial Criminal Court flanked by their attorneys, who had questions for the court.
While all pleaded not guilty, James Bell, Joe Bolinger’s attorney, questioned the language in the lengthy indictment.
“We are entitled to know (what it is),” Bell said of the portion of the indictment that refers to the “regulations or procedures implemented by the Tennessee Department of Human Services.” Bell said he wanted to know the “substance of the charges” his client was facing. He went on to question if the indictment was “subject to review.” “I had to get this before the court,” he said.
While the indictment doesn’t specify what the regulations and procedures are, the words following that portion of the indictment refer to Tennessee law.
Eight Judicial District Criminal Court Judge E. Shayne Sexton suggested that Bell direct his questions regarding the indictment to prosecutors.
“All I am doing today is making sure we are following protocol,” Sexton said.
Jeff Whit, who represents Jennifer Brown, and Rob Asbury, Jimmie Ivey’s attorney, remained silent on the topic.
Ivey, the alleged owner of the store, is facing 77 counts. He is the only one facing a narcotics charge after being indicted with conspiracy to sell marijuana. According to the indictment, that offense occurred April 9. Ivey is also charged with 69 counts of theft under $1,000, one count of attempted theft over $1,000, multiple counts of fraudulent receipt of food assistance and a sole count of criminal conspiracy. He faces 72 misdemeanors and five felonies.
Bolinger, the City of LaFollette vice mayor, was indicted on four counts of fraudulent receipt of food assistance and one count of criminal conspiracy. He has two misdemeanors and three felonies to contend with. Should he be convicted of a felony, Bolinger will be forced to resign his position as vice- mayor and his seat on the city council.
Brown, an employee and Bolinger’s girlfriend, faces five counts of fraudulent receipt of food assistance and one count of criminal conspiracy, according to the indictment. Of her charges, two are misdemeanors and four are felonies.
When agents raided the business in April they did so under the authority under the Fraudulent Receipt of Food Stamps Assistance law.
Under that law, anyone who uses, or helps someone else use food stamps in any manner except their expressed purpose, can be convicted of a Class E Felony or Class A Misdemeanor. The distinction in the penalties correlates to the amount of the fraud, according to the law. Anything over $100 is a felony while under $100 is a misdemeanor.
The trio is due back in court on Monday, August 13. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 06/19/2018-6AM)