Megan Barry resigned her position as mayor of Nashville, Tennessee yesterday. But, she didn’t go out without a fight! Initially, she denied any wrongdoing. However, in late January, Barry admitted that she had an extramarital affair with her security detail officer. She also accepted a plea agreement for criminal charges of felony theft. The first elected woman mayor of Nashville vowed to continue to serve her community and the Democratic party after the admission.
The couple’s affair came under scrutiny when allegations surfaced that taxpayers funded several state trips including a trip to Athens, Greece. According to The Cut, Mayor Barry “claimed all of the trips were for official business, she admitted that after three of those trips, she stayed behind for four extra days.” However, according to the mayor’s schedule, there were no official functions and Forrest was her only companion.
According to the Tennessean, District Attorney Glenn Funk negotiated a plea agreement with the disgraced mayor Barry pleaded guilty to felony theft of over $10,000 and will be on probation for three years. She has agreed to reimburse the city $11,000 in unlawful expenses, according to the report. She also agreed to resign her position. For his role, Sgt. Forrest also accepted a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to property theft. Forrest has agreed to reimburse the city $45,000. He also will serve three years of probation.
The Criminal Investigation
What started as an admission to an affair and a public apology turned into three separate investigations. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) launched an investigation into whether the mayor had violated any ethical and criminal laws over the course of her nearly two and a half year affair, according to The Cut. The TBI found enough evidence that both Barry and Forrest had “misappropriated government funds,” per the report.
Forrest had accumulated overtime pay in the whopping amount of $170,000 in the three years he was the mayor’s head security detail. In October 2016, the mayor’s office began the approval and payment process. Megan Barry’s Chief of Staff Debby Dale Mason approved nine of the couple’s ten trips.
Felony theft is a crime. It may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. In this case, the District Attorney criminally charged both Barry and Forrest with felony theft. Consequently, the amount differentiates whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. In Tennessee Class A misdemeanor is the theft of any property that value ranges from $500 or less. A Class E felony is theft where the value is more than $500 and less than a $1,000. Whereas, a Class D felony is theft at $1,000 or more and less than $10,000. Class C felony is any item that has the value of at $10,000 or more and less than $60,000. Finally, a Class B felony is valued at $60,000 or more. Ordinarily, the crimes are punishable by probation or jail time.
The once rising political star’s career is over. Hopefully, the now unemployed mayor who is a prominent voice in the national conversation on the opioid crisis will continue her work in remembrance of her son. Barry’s son died of an apparent drug overdose. Her work in that area may be the best way to fix her legacy.