Tennessee State Representative and Former Chief of Staff Charged with Bribery and Kickback Conspiracy
A Tennessee state representative and his former chief of staff were arrested today at their homes on criminal charges related to a bribery and kickback conspiracy.
According to court documents, State Representative Glen Casada, 63, of Franklin, and Cade Cothren, 35, of Nashville, are charged with conspiracy to commit theft from programs receiving federal funds; bribery and kickbacks concerning programs receiving federal funds; honest services wire fraud; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Both will make initial appearances in federal court later today.
According to allegations in the indictment, beginning in and around October 2019, Casada – while representing Tennessee House District 63; Cothren; and another conspirator – also a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, engaged in a fraudulent scheme to enrich themselves by exploiting Casada and the other conspirator’s official positions as legislators to obtain state approval of a company called Phoenix Solutions as vendor to provide constituent mail services to members of the Tennessee General Assembly. Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator further allegedly sought to obtain State funds for Phoenix Solutions, Casada’s political consulting business, and a political consulting business owned by the other conspirator. Casada and the other conspirator are alleged to have enriched themselves by obtaining bribes and kickbacks from Cothren, in exchange for securing the approval of Phoenix Solutions as a mailer program vendor.
The indictment alleges that the conspirators told members of the Tennessee General Assembly that Phoenix Solutions was run by an individual named “Matthew Phoenix,” an experienced political consultant who had previously worked for a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. In fact, Cothren operated Phoenix Solutions, and Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator allegedly knew that “Matthew Phoenix” was a fictitious person and secretly profited from the fraudulent venture. Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator allegedly concealed their involvement in Phoenix Solutions by submitting sham invoices to the State of Tennessee in the names of political consulting companies owned by Casada and the other conspirator, for the purpose of secretly funneling money from the State to Phoenix Solutions through the bank accounts of these companies. In 2020, these companies and Phoenix Solutions allegedly received approximately $51,947 from the State in payments associated with the mailer program.
If convicted, Casada and Cothren each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for certain individual counts. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and U.S. Attorney Mark H. Wildasin for the Middle District of Tennessee made the announcement.
The FBI is investigating the case.
Trial Attorney John P. Taddei of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda J. Klopf for the Middle District of Tennessee are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.