Sumner County Sheriff’s Major Pleads No Contest to Misconduct Charges

Tennessee – Former Sumner County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Don Linzy pleaded no contest to charges of official misconduct on Monday in Davidson County Criminal Court. As part of the plea agreement, Linzy received a sentence of two years of probation. The other six charges against him were dismissed.

A 22-year veteran of the department who headed up the criminal investigations and records divisions, Linzy was indicted by a Sumner County grand jury in September 2015 following allegations that he removed prescription narcotics from the sheriff’s department’s evidence room without authorization over a three-month period.

The charges included two counts of official misconduct, theft under $500, and five counts of simple possession/casual exchange of a controlled substance. The theft and possession charges were Class A misdemeanors while the misconduct charges were Class E felonies.

The indictment came less than a month after Sumner County District Attorney General Ray Whitley asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into the matter. Whitley had received a call from Sumner County Sheriff Sonny Weatherford who relayed suspicions that Linzy removed evidence from closed cases, according to previous news reports.

Linzy, who is now 57, resigned from the department shortly after being put on unpaid administrative leave during the investigation. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and has remained free on a $10,000 bond.

Described by Whitley as a “terrific investigator” shortly after his indictment, Linzy had also been serving as the county department’s chief of detectives and often testified in criminal cases.

Both Whitley and Sumner County Criminal Court Judge Dee David Gay recused themselves from the case. It was prosecuted by Roger Moore and Jan Norman of the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office. Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Mark Fishburn was assigned the case in October 2015.

In July 2016, Linzy’s attorney Jack Byrd filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the state’s mishandling of video evidence violated the former law enforcement officer’s constitutional right to due process.

In an opinion dated Dec. 12, 2017 Fishburn denied the motion citing testimony and evidence heard during two separate hearings on Aug. 16, 2016 and on Oct. 23, 2017.

While the state was negligent in its failure to preserve video footage of the hallways and parking lot after the investigation began, Fishburn noted, the loss of the footage was neither deliberate nor malicious.

Fishburn also said that the significance of the missing video footage seemed slight and that “there was other evidence that may be used at trial to support a conviction of the defendant,” adding a TBI fingerprint analysis showed that Linzy’s fingerprints were found on numerous evidence envelopes in which narcotics were missing.

A trial date had been set for Jan. 8.