Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his aide Cade Cothren have been arrested and are facing several federal charges after a lengthy investigation into corruption.
Both Casada and Cothren face charges ranging from money laundering, use of a fictitious name to carry out fraud, and bribery. The Department of Justice confirmed through a spokesman that Casada and Cothren were arrested on Tuesday.
Casada and Cothren appeared in court on Tuesday cuffed and wearing ankle chains for their initial appearance. They pleaded not guilty during the hearing.
Prosecutors have alleged that the men ran a questionable political consulting firm – led primarily by Cothren. The firm allegedly operated under the false identity of Matthew Phoenix, to solicit General Assembly business and drip feed kickbacks to associates for personal gain.
The allegations are linked to former Rep. Robin Smith (R-Hixson) who resigned and promptly accepted a plea agreement where Smith pleaded guilty to a single wire fraud charge.
Smith expressed regret for her actions in her resignation letter. “I want you to know that serving the great people of this district, and indeed, all of Tennessee, has truly been an honor. I have resigned with the deepest of humility and out of respect for the role of public service,” she wrote.
Casada, who did not seek re-election this year, is the first current or former Tennessee Speaker of the House to be indicted in over a century.
The most severe charges on the charge sheet carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and fines of $500,000. If Casada and Cothren are convicted on all charges, they could face in excess of 100 years in prison along with $2.5 million in fines.
Cothren’s lawyer, Cynthia Sherwood, told reporters that Cothren “looks forward to being vindicated.” Cothren said “The truth will come out,” before leaving.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: TENNESSEEAN.COM
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