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Pope seeks appeal to state Supreme Court

December 6th, 2012 10:34 pm by J. H. Osborne

BLOUNTVILLE — Allan Pope is seeking to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court his conviction by a local jury of theft over $10,000 (but under $60,000) during his time as Sullivan County highway commissioner.


Earlier this year an appeals court overturned some of the criminal convictions which prompted Pope’s departure from office in 2010, but affirmed others, including the felony conviction he is appealing and which alone could bar his return to office.


In a decision released in early October, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals remanded the Pope case back to Sullivan County Criminal Court “for entry of judgments consistent” with the higher court’s decisions.


“We have thoroughly reviewed the record, the parties’ briefs, and the applicable case law,” the Appeals Court’s ruling reads, in part. “We reverse and dismiss (Pope’s) convictions for official misconduct and private use of public property; we affirm (Pope’s) conviction for theft of property over $10,000 but less than $60,000; and we remand the case to the trial court for entry of judgments consistent with this opinion.”


Pope was tried on four counts of theft of services more than $1,000 but less than $10,000; one count of official misconduct; one count of using public equipment for private purposes; and one count of theft of services more than $10,000 but less than $60,000. A jury found him not guilty of all counts of theft of services more than $1,000 but less than $10,000. The jury found Pope guilty of the remaining counts. The trial court imposed a one-year suspended sentence for official misconduct and a three-year suspended sentence for theft of services more than $10,000 but less than $60,000 and placed appellant on probation for six years.


Pope’s appeal to the lower court had raised the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying appellant’s motion for judgment of acquittal or motion for new trial; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction for official misconduct; (3) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction for private use of county equipment; (4) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction for theft of services more than $10,000 but less than $60,000, and; (5) whether the trial court erred in ordering restitution.


Upon review of the record, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with Pope that evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions for official misconduct and private use of public property, and reversed the judgments of conviction and dismissed those counts of the indictment. But the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court on theft of services more than $10,000 but less than $60,000 — a Class C felony.


It’s that conviction that Pope now seeks to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court, filing an application for permission to appeal earlier this week.


The appeal is not automatic simply because Pope seeks it — the state Supreme Court could choose not to take up the issue.


Pope was suspended without pay after the trial jury’s guilty verdict on Nov. 5, 2010.


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