Police to pay woman $80k in wrongful arrest suit

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By Beth Braden

 JELLICO— The Jellico Police Department has reached a settlement with Tina Gregg, for $80,000 after she was wrongfully arrested for the theft of a bicycle by officer J.J. Hatmaker in 2010. 

The money will be paid by the town’s former insurance provider, Tennessee Municipal League, said Jellico mayor, Les Stiers.

Stiers declined to comment further on the matter because he said the incident happened before he took office.

The arrest stems back to a 2009 incident in which a miniature bike was sold at Gregg’s Fast Cash pawnshop in Caryville. The bike was apparently stolen from Whitley County, Ky., although the victim’s ex-girlfriend had provided the pawnshop with proof of ownership.

Hatmaker became involved in the case after a Whitley County detective informed him of the incident. 

The bike was ultimately sold after the required hold time.

Seven months later, in July 2010, Gregg was invited to a meeting in Whitley County to discuss Kentucky pawnshop laws. Hatmaker arrived there with a felony warrant and arrested Gregg in Kentucky, documents said. 

According to Gregg’s attorney, the incident has no connection to Jellico and Hatmaker overstepped his jurisdiction. 

Gregg appeared the following month in court where her attorney made a motion to dismiss the case. Then District Attorney Lief Jeffers declined to contest the motion to dismiss. 

In June 2011, Gregg sued the department for violation of her civil rights.

But Hatmaker said some of Stokes’s comments weren’t accurate. 

“We were prepared to go to trial. It was [Tennessee Municipal League’s]  decision to settle to save on attorney’s fees,” he said Tuesday.