JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – Former LaFollette City Councilmember Ann Thompson has resolved her criminal court case.
Initially facing 36 felony counts that included 34 counts of wiretapping and electronic surveillance and two counts of official misconduct Thompson finally pleaded guilty to two counts of wiretapping and electronic surveillance on Wednesday.
Appearing via Zoom, Thompson agreed she had placed the recording device, that looked like a cigarette lighter, under a table in the LaFollette City Council Chambers on two occasions in 2019.
The consequences for her actions were Thompson being placed on judicial diversion and Tennessee Department of Corrections probation for six years. With judicial diversion, a guilty plea is held by the court and not entered. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the offense will not be entered into their criminal history. Conditions of the plea also include Thompson meeting with a probation officer once a month and not seeking or holding public office while she is on probation. Thompson must also pay court costs.
“Do you understand what a good opportunity this is for you,” Eighth Judicial District Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton asked Thompson. “Yes,” Thompson said.
Filed along with Thompson’s guilty plea was a Stipulation of Facts that outlined her crimes and the justification for her sentencing.
In 2019, Thompson placed a recording device under a city hall conference table on two occasions. Within the court documents, it was noted by the district attorney’s office that Thompson “may have been motivated by a sense of civic duty” when she hid the recorder under the table. At that time, Thompson was a member of city council. In city council meetings leading up to her hiding the recorder, Thompson had accused her fellow council members of violating the Open Meetings Act, commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law.
Tennessee law doesn’t allow for the recording of individuals without their consent. This means that when she recorded the conversations of six city employees, on two occasions, she invaded their privacy. The invasion, regardless of her motivation, was “unequivocally criminal in nature,” court records said.
However, Thompson’s resignation from the council and admitting responsibility for her criminal conduct did carry weight in terms of sentencing, the court record said. Because she didn’t intend to obtain personal benefit from the recordings, the official misconduct charges were dismissed.
Last month, Thompson resigned from the council citing personal reasons. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED 12/17/2020- 6AM)