By Andy Wise, WREG News (Tennessee)
FEDERAL BUILDING, DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS -- Three compact discs full of phone conversations may reveal details of a burglary plot reportedly planned by three Memphis police officers and a former Memphis stripper, according to the stripper's attorney.
Attorney Clifton Harviel, who represents April Veach, told U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald prosecutors have handed over the CD's as part of the discovery process. He says the discs reveal details of a plot allegedly planned by Veach, former Memphis police officer David Tate and police officer Billy Scott to burglarize the East Memphis home of professional wrestler Jerry Lawler.
"My impression is (the discs cover) everything from casual conversations to things about the potential burglary to things about other allegations in the indictments," says Harviel.
Veach, free on a $5,000 bond after being charged last month with conspiracy to commit burglary, would not comment at Tuesday's court hearing.
Harviel also said Stephen Leffler, attorney for Tate, has requested a psychiatric evaluation of his client that may take 90 to 120 days. Leffler's investigator told 3 On Your Side he is in depositions all day long and could not confirm the request.
Below are the details of the indictments against Veach, Tate, Scott and a third officer, John Vaughn:
Terrell L. Harris, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, Larry Godwin, Director of Police Services for the City of Memphis, James E. Farnan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Memphis Division, Audis Wells, Resident Agent in Charge of the DEA's Memphis Resident Office, and Sheree W. Preston, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Ciminal Investigation, announced the unsealing of criminal complaints against Memphis Police Officers David Tate, Billy Scott and John D. Vaughan, and civilian April Veach.
The complaints allege violations of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841 (a)(1) and 846 (drug distribution); Title 18, United States Code, Section 2421 (interstate transportation of "any woman or girl" for purposes of prostitution); Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666 and 1951 (bribery); Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 (conspiracy); Title 18, United States Code, Section 2 (aiding and abetting); and Title 18, United States Code, Section 241 (conspiracy to violate civil rights under color of law).
According to the affidavit supporting the complaints in this matter:
* Officer David Tate is approximately 37-years-old and has been employed by the Memphis Police Department since July of 1986. Tate is charged with all the violations alleged in the complaints.
* Billy Scott is approximately 28-years-old and has been employed by the Memphis Police Department since August, 1998. Scott is charged with the drug, prostitution and civil rights violations alleged in the complaints.
* John D. Vaughan is approximately 28-years-old and has been employed by the Memphis Police Department since August, 1999. Vaughan is charged with the drug violations alleged in the complaints.
* April Veach is approximately 21-years-old. She is charged with conspiring with Tate and Scott to commit a civil rights violation.
According to the affidavit, the course of criminal conduct charged in the complaints started in Spring of 2004 when Tate sought to establish a relationship with several Memphis area nightclubs whereby he would provide warnings of vice raids in exchange for bribes. As part of this scheme, Tate established contact with an individual, who unknown to Tate assisted in the investigation.
During a meeting on March 31, 2004, Tate and the cooperating individual agreed on approximately $500.00 a month initially for Tate's services, including notification of vice raids. At the same meeting, Tate acception a $200.00 payment to run a computer check on the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). NCIC is a non-public law enforcement database. According to the affidavit, Tate ultimately received several other payments and engaged in other criminal schemes.
According to the affidavit, Tate recruited another police officer, Billy Scott, to assist the cooperating individual in transporting women across state lines for purposes of prostitution. The women were undercover agents posing as prostitutes. As part of the sting, Tate and Scott were told that the women were carrying distributable quantities of controlled substances. Before Tate and Scott escorted the women during the first trip on October 1, 2004, the cooperating individual told them that the women were carrying ecstacy, and that the women were meeting high dollar gamblers in Tunica. Before the next trip on November 5, 2004, the cooperating individual told Tate and Scott that there was going to be fifty ecstacy pills and one hundred grams of methamphetamine in the limousine with them when they traveled to the casino in Mississippi.
According to the affidavit, Scott recruited still another officer, John Vaughan, for another trip. On November 13, 2004, Vaughan met with an undercover FBI agent. The agent explained the next drug transaction planned for November 19, 2004, and paid Vaughan $500 as a retainer for his participation in the November 19th operation. On November 15, 2004, Tate and Scott assisted the undercover agent in transporting two kilograms of methamphetamine to Mississippi. Then on November 19, 2004, Tate, Scott and Vaughan provided security for a supposed sale of ten kilograms of methamphetamine to a "buyer" coming from Missouri. The "buyer" was actually another FBI undercover agent.
In addition, the complaints allege that Tate, Scott and civilian April Veach conspired to commit a burglary at a house in East Memphis, using the officers' positions with the police department and departmental equipment to accomplish the crime, which would violate the home-owner's right to be secure in his person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. During a meeting with the cooperating individual on November 6, 2004, Tate told the cooperating individual about an individual who had $200,000 in cash hidden inside two jukeboxes at his residence. According to Tate, the owner of the residence was out of town every Monday. Tate remarked that he thought this was an easy mark and that he planned to take it off in the near future. He indicated that he could have another marked police unit up the road from the residence as a lookout and would also hear any 911 calls over his scanner.
According to the affidavit, during this period, the investigators were monitoring Tate's cellular telephone, pursuant to a court order. During a series of telephone calls between Tate and Scott on November 8, 2004, the two officers discussed their surveillance of the target residence. During one of these conversations, Tate told Scott that he had the "layout of the inside of the house." On the same day, Tate also had a telephone conversation with April Veach in which they discussed plans for the burglary, Tate indicated that he would shoot the occupant if they found the occupant in the house with a pistol, and Tate offered April Veach a larger share of the expected $200,000 because the burglary was her idea.
According to the affidavit, Tate and Scott discussed the burglary plan with the undercover FBI agent on November 15, 2004. Tate indicated he wanted the FBI undercover agent to assist them in the burglary. After describing the physical particulars of the residence to be burglarized and the method to be used to gain entry to the residence, Tate indicated that he had a Pizza Hut delivery uniform that he could wear and go to the front door and check and see if any one was home without raising any suspicions.
The defendants were arrested on November 21, 2004.