Bryan D. Carter, 35.
One week after Kingsport's police chief was cleared of allegations of misconduct, the officer who reportedly made the claims against him has been arrested.
Bryan D. Carter, 35, a 14-year veteran of the Kingsport Police Department, turned himself in at the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Tuesday morning. Last week a Sullivan County grand jury indicted Carter on one count each of forgery, a Class E felony, and criminal impersonation, a Class B misdemeanor. He has been released on a $1,000 bond.
The arrest of Carter is connected to an e-mail he reportedly sent May 8 to the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the Sullivan County District Attorney's Office and Times-News, among others. It claimed Chief Osborne misused police facilities and forces for personal gain — accusations Osborne asserted at the time were untrue, which was confirmed last week when a Sullivan County grand jury took cleared Osborne of any wrongdoing in the incident.
That same grand jury returned sealed indictments against Carter. The charges aren't for making false accusations, but for the way he went about doing it.
Carter allegedly set up a Gmail account to send the e-mail, entering information which made it appear as if a former KPD employee was responsible for the message. That ex-officer's name, identified in the Aug. 28 indictments as Jason McClain, and badge number, were contained in the e-mail address Carter reportedly established.
"What we've alleged is that Bryan Carter was the individual that actually sent the email regarding Chief Osborne. And we've alleged that by virtue of that he's also committed a forgery," Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said Tuesday afternoon.
"The allegations in the indictment arise from the TBI investigation into the initial complaint and the initial email that was sent to me, and the TBI, and members of the Kingsport city government, regarding Chief Osborne. And, of course, we began the investigation by speaking to the individual who was supposed to have sent the email."
"We completed the first part of that investigation, which was to determine if what was contained in that email was substantiated as true. And of course the grand jury found that Chief Osborne did not do anything improper."
"Once we completed that portion of the investigation, then our next was to determine, to try to make a determination of who sent the email, and based on that investigation by the TBI, the allegations against Bryan Carter were made," he concluded.
Staubus declined to get into specifics regarding whether Carter is alleged to have used a KPD-issued or personal computer, smartphone or other device to create the email address and generate the email that was distributed. He also declined to say whether any of McLain's personal information was used to create the email account.
The e-mail sent from that Gmail account stated Osborne used on-duty and off-duty officers to conduct his personal business at a rental property he owns, including the removal of the tenant's belongings. The e-mail added that the tenant's property was placed into a city owned storage unit and had to be unlocked by an off-duty detective under the order of Osborne.
It has since come to light that Osborne had a court order to remove the property, issued by Kingsport General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Mark Toohey. Staubus and Kingsport City Manager John Campbell had also been briefed on the situation prior to the e-mailed accusations of misconduct.
A Kingsport woman who rented one of Osborne's properties died, with her 14-year-old special needs child placed into the care of the state. When questions arose about distribution of the deceased's property, and it appeared as if her child would be left with nothing, Osborne stepped in to secure the belongings.
They are currently held in a storage unit paid for out-of-pocket by Osborne, while a pickup truck belonging to the deceased is in a city storage facility. An attorney has also been appointed as guardian ad litem for the juvenile, representing the child's interests in court.
"If the courts hadn't have stepped in, this little fella, 14, wouldn't have had anything when he turned an adult, 18," Osborne told the Times-News last week. "Everything would have been gone."
Nevertheless, the misconduct allegations Carter allegedly made prompted a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe into Osborne's handling of the situation. The grand jury reviewed the TBI's findings, determining no action will be taken, "other than to affirm and praise Chief Osborne's actions."
The forgery indictment against Carter alleges that he did, "with the intent to defraud or harm another, forge a writing of Jason McLain, so that it purported to be the act of Jason McLain, the said forgery being without the authorization of Jason (McLain)." The criminal impersonation indictment alleges Carter did, "assume a false identity with the intent to injure or defraud another person."
Although the indictments were returned Aug. 28, Staubus advised the state agreed to allow Carter to wait to turn himself in as a courtesy extended to his attorney, Matt King, who was out of town until Tuesday.
Carter is scheduled for arraignment Friday in Sullivan County Criminal Court.
As first reported by the Times-News, Carter was placed on administrative leave in early August. Tuesday afternoon, Matt King advised his client resigned before he turned himself in to authorities.
In 2009 Carter was suspended three days without pay and suspended from working interstate for three months. Those actions followed an October 2008 traffic stop in which $2,675 was allegedly seized and the vehicle's occupants were allowed to drive away.
Carter allegedly provided the driver a Tennessee Notice of Property Seizure detailing the seizure of the money, but didn't identify himself as the officer effecting the seizure, or the law enforcement agency he represented. And no incident report on the stop was filed at the police station.
The individuals he stopped, citizens of Mexico, later contacted a Johnson City attorney, claiming Carter actually seized about $4,500. According to then Sullivan County District Attorney Greeley Wells -- who requested that the TBI investigate the incident and called the police work "shoddy" -- Carter's actions could have been presented to the grand jury under the official misconduct statute. But since the car's occupants would not return to Tennessee as witnesses, that was not possible.
In 2005, according to personnel records, police called Carter at his home after he failed to turn in money seized during an arrest the previous evening. And in 2003 Carter's superiors discovered he had not turned in several items seized 11 months prior to the evidence unit, including a gun and bottle of vodka. For each of those incidents Carter was suspended eight hours without pay.