Friday, June 9, 2017
Clemmons Parole Bid Denied
A Tennessee board has turned down parole for a disbarred Nashville attorney who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1.3 million from wards and estates he had been appointed to oversee and protect.
The state Board of Probation rejected parole for John E. Clemmons, 69, who is serving a 25 year sentence after pleading guilty to stealing funds from wards and estates in Davidson and Rutherford Counties.
Clemmons began serving the sentence on Nov. 8, 2013. He is currently an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville.
He will not be eligible for another try at parole until May of 2020. Without parole his sentence will not end until 2038.
A spokeswoman for the board said the decision to deny parole was based on the seriousness of the offenses he committed. According to board records Clemmons could have been released next month had the board approved.
Board spokeswoman Melissa McDonald said the first votes cast on Clemmons' case were three concurring votes to deny parole and review again in three years. The vote affirmed a recommendation from a board hearing officer, she said
Clemmons' thefts were first detected by John Bratcher, clerk and master of the Rutherford County Chancery Court.
Bratcher said he had no sympathy for Clemmons and he was pleased with the board's decision.
"John Clemmons stole from the people he had taken an oath to protect. He stole from the weak and incompetent, and he did it over a period of 10 years. He caused almost unspeakable anguish for the families of his victims. He should serve his sentence day for day," Bratcher said.
Clemmons had been named conservator for Russell Church, a retired Rutherford County teacher then living in a nursing home.
In 2013 Bratcher testified that Clemmons stole over $123,910.02 from Church's estate. He said that overall Clemmons took $1.3 million from four victims Clemmons eventually entered a guilty plea to Rutherford theft charges. Church, court records show, was the only victim to fully recover the stolen funds.
In court documents Bratcher said that Clemmons' began stealing from Church on the very first day of his appointment. On that day, Nov. 22, 2011, Batcher said, Clemmons took $21,644.46 from three of Church's accounts. He said in a statement to the court that Clemmons apparently used the funds to gamble at a Mississippi casino.
Following the discovery in Rutherford County an investigation of the dozens of cases Clemmons was appointed to oversee in Davidson County turned up three more cases in which Clemmons had stolen thousands of dollars.
He entered guilty pleas in all three Davidson cases.
Tersesa Lyle, whose mother, Nannie Malone, was one of Clemmons' victims, said she only learned of Clemmons' parole bid when contacted by a reporter.
She said the family was only able to recover a small fraction of the amount Clemmons admitted to stealing. The recovery came from a bond Clemmons was required to post when he was appointed as Malone's conservator in 2008.
But Lyle said the bond value was well below the nearly $1 million in assets, including a 68-acre farm, Clemmons took control of. Records show some of Malone's properties were sold off at auction for back taxes Clemmons failed to pay.
Records show within a matter of days of his appointment as Malone's conservator by Davidson Probate Judge David "Randy" Kennedy, Clemmons began writing checks to himself.
Malone died on Oct. 25, 2012.
One of the Davidson victims, Donald Griggs, did recover $10,000 under a court settlement with Metro. The February settlement came in a suit filed by Paul Gontarek, who replaced Clemmons as Griggs conservator. He charged that had court officials done their job in monitoring Clemmons' activities, the $157,850 could never have been stolen.
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Clemmons Parole Bid Denied