Violation: Felony Vandalism
Result: Not guilty verdict
My client is a pilot for a major airlines and lives in Smith County, Tennessee. After a dispute with the Smith Water District, my client attempted to uncover a water line the district had installed without permission on his property to take measurements of exactly where on his property it had been placed and accidentally damaged the waterline. The waterline had been placed on my client’s property without his permission and against his express concerns and objects because the adjoining land owners, who were the beneficiaries of the waterline, had deep political connections in Smith County.
The water line was damaged with a 4 inch hole from the front end loader on the client’s tractor ad he immediately notified the water district. There was no loss of water as the water in the line was being used for testing for leaks only and would not have been potable (drinkable). The District issued a bill for $1,600 for the repair but, as the line was installed without permission, my client refused to pay. As a result, the water district indicted the landowner for felony vandalism and the matter set for a jury trial with client facing up to 4 years in prison unless he paid the extortion money. At the end of a trial before Criminal Court Judge Brody Kane a not guilty verdict was issued and the political powers of Smith County, Tennessee did not get their way as they were accustomed to from using the bullying tactics normally employed against citizens.