FBI arrests former lawmaker over alleged bribery and kickbacks

Tennessee’s disgraced former House Speaker Glen Casada and his top aide were taken into custody on federal charges including kickbacks, bribery and conspiracy to launder money. If found guilty, they could each face up to 20 years in prison. The two pleaded not guilty and have been granted pretrial release with restricted travel to the Middle District of Tennessee or elsewhere if approved.

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Rep. Glen Casada and his former chief of staff Cade Cothren were indicted for allegedly running a sham direct mail scheme for personal gain. The indictment came from a federal grand jury, the Justice Department reported. It is alleged that Glen Casada, 63, of Franklin, and Cade Cothren, 35, of Nashville, exploited their power by working with another unnamed lawmaker to funnel money to one another through Phoenix Solutions, LLC. The organization is a political consulting firm used by the conspirators in order to conceal their involvement, according to the indictment.

In addition to conspiracy to commit theft from programs receiving federal funds, Casada and Cothren are charged with bribery and kickbacks related to programs receiving federal funds. Aside from ‘honest services wire fraud,’ they are also charged with unlawful use of a fictitious name and theft related to federally funded programs, conspiracy to commit money laundering, bribery and kickbacks, said Fox News.

Casada’s home and offices were searched by FBI agents at least two times: in January 2021, and in March of this year. Several lawmakers and legislative staff were issued a set of grand jury subpoenas as part of the corruption investigation. According to a news release issued by the Justice Department, the defendants misled other Tennessee lawmakers in a conspiracy “to enrich themselves by obtaining bribes and kickbacks from Cade Cothren, in exchange for securing the approval of Phoenix Solutions as a mailer program vendor.”

An unsealed 20-count indictment alleges that Glen Casada, Cade Cothren and the other conspirator solicited public funds for Phoenix Solutions, LLC, which is Casada’s political consulting firm he ran together with the other conspirator. Furthermore, Casada and the other conspirator were alleged to have obtained bribes and kickbacks from Cothren in order to get approval for Phoenix Solutions, LLC as a messaging program provider.

Casada and his other conspirator, according to the indictment, told members of the Tennessee General Assembly that Phoenix Solutions, LLC had been run by a political consultant named Matthew Phoenix, a former consultant at a Washington, DC-based firm. In order to conceal their involvement with Phoenix Solutions, LLC, Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator submitted false invoices to the State of Tennessee for political consulting firms owned by Casada and the other conspirator, thereby secretly funneling state funds to Phoenix Solutions.

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