Skip to main content

Public Corruption

One of the most important responsibilities our office bears is to prosecute elected and public officials who violate federal laws and the public’s trust. Public corruption cannot be tolerated. When law enforcement officers are involved in committing crimes, their actions tarnish the entire community of dedicated public servants. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee has a proud tradition of prosecuting those who chose to violate their oaths of office and commit crimes. We work very closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure that our citizens receive the honest representation and protection they expect and deserve. Some of the recent public corruption prosecutions our office has undertaken include:

  • According to court documents filed by the United States, from 2014 through 2021, Apps, the business manager of Broad Street United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee, devised a scheme in which he used an official church credit card to pay for personal expenses in excess of $1.5 million dollars.  Some of these expenses included payment for personal travel, automobiles, medical bills for family members, boat/watercraft and marina fees, and firearms, none of which was related to church business. Apps also wrote checks to himself under the guise of church member donations to support supposed medical bills relating to his false claim that he had brain cancer.  The specific count of conviction involves the use of the church credit card to buy a luxury watch from an expensive retailer in California for $3,711.  Apps is scheduled to be sentenced on July 27, 2023 at 2:00 p.m., before the Honorable Charles E. Atchley, Jr., in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

  • Reichel admitted to engaging in a scheme to defraud through his business, Loss Recovery Specialists (“LRS”), which held itself out to be a public claims adjuster licensed through the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. Through LRS, Reichel identified homeowners and businesses who had suffered property damage and were seeking reimbursement through their insurance policies. Reichel then solicited payments for repairs and other services, misusing his victims’ funds for personal and private gains, and improper professional expenses.  Reichel agreed that the United States could present proof of losses totaling between $550,000 and $1,500,000.  Ringgold, Georgia, entered a guilty plea to one count of mail fraud before United States Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

If you have information about public corruption in your community, please speak up. Both the TBI and the FBI have jurisdiction to investigate public corruption. For state officials, the TBI is the primary investigative agency. For federal officials, please contact the FBI.

Updated May 25, 2023