Police: Detectives spot Godsey in the act of criminal littering

Rain Smith • Jul 19, 2012 at 5:23 AM

According to a report at the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, two police detectives passing the historic courthouse in Blountville observed Mayor Steve Godsey disposing of glass windows in a dumpster, classifying the offense as criminal littering.

Police say "several" windows were placed into the containers shortly before 10 p.m. last Friday, while information on the incident is being shared with the district attorney's office. On Thursday afternoon, Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said he is aware of the allegations against Godsey and the police investigation.

"The only thing I can tell you is I had permission from the solid waste director to put recyclable windows in the dumpster," Godsey told the Times-News on Thursday.

"He told me where to put them, and that's where I put them," Godsey said. "He gave me the OK. That's all I can tell you. I think (law enforcement involvement) is hilarious."

The police record at the sheriff's office does not specify which dumpster the windows were placed in. Two green containers in the parking lot behind the courthouse are marked, "NOT FOR PUBLIC USE. Any Unauthorized Persons Using this Container Will Be PROSECUTED." A third white container against the building is for recyclables and states, "Cardboard Only."

The Times-News questioned police about the alleged incident Wednesday, with a report filed at the sheriff's office Thursday morning. It stated the incident occurred Friday, July 13, at approximately 9:45 p.m.

Two passing detectives noticed a pickup truck with dealer tags behind the courthouse. The report identifies Godsey, 57, as "unloading several windows into a locked dumpster."

SCSO Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart says the detectives didn't speak with Godsey, but later returned to the dumpster to find the windows inside. A photograph of those windows was taken and filed into police records.

Godsey said Sullivan County Solid Waste Director Lucian Lawson gave him permission to place the windows in the dumpster, and a key to do so. Lawson told the Times-News he indeed gave the go-ahead, while another county employee provided Godsey the key.

"There ain't nothing illegal about what he did," Lawson said. "That happens every day. If we had issues with that we'd have to arrest everybody in Blountville and Kingsport. That happens everywhere every day. He didn't do anything."

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