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Tag: Tennessee

NTSB: Kentucky Truck Driver’s Meth Use, Fatigue Caused Crash That Killed 6 People

Chattanooga Truck accident, via Chattanooga Police Department.

Chattanooga Truck accident, via Chattanooga Police Department.

By Steve Neavling

The Kentucky truck driver who crashed on a Tennessee highway last year, killing six people, was fatigued, high on methamphetamine and failed to slow down in a construction zone, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The June 2015 crash occurred on I-75 near Chattanooga and sparked safety changes.

The driver, Benjamin Brewer of London, crashed several times in the past, the Associated Press reports. 

“Our investigation reveals how this driver’s choices and actions, in the days and hours before the crash, led to the crash and loss of life,” NTSB chairman Christopher A. Hart said.

The AP wrote:

After probably going without “sustained rest” for 40 hours, Brewer was working for Cool Runnings Express Inc., also of London, when he failed to slow down with traffic entering a marked construction work zone. His truck first hit a Toyota Prius at speeds of 78 to 82 mph, and seven other vehicles and 18 people were involved. In addition to the six deaths, four people were injured. Brewer had stopped in Florida about 5:16 a.m. and was on his way to London when the crash occurred about 7:10 p.m. June 25, 2015. Brewer was arrested in Lexington.

Brewer didn’t take evasive action to avoid the crash, the NTSB found.

After the crash, he tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the NTSB, which saidthe drug affected his driving ability.

There were indicators that Brewer was unsafe, the NTSB said.

Todd McCall Named Assistant Director of FBI’s Operational Technology Division

Todd McCall

Todd McCall

By Allan Lengel

Todd McCall, special agent in charge of the Memphis FBI, has been named  assistant director for the bureau’s Operational Technology Division.

McCall joined the FBI in 1990 and began his career in the Dallas Division.

He served on the Dallas Division’s Evidence Response Team and was involved in the management of the investigations of the Oklahoma City bombing and the Sept. 11, 2001 crash of United Air Lines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., the FBI said in a press release.

He’s  held leadership positions at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Va. and  in Tennessee.


Stejskal: An Intriguing Tale of a GM Worker Who Got Busted Selling Test Cars from Proving Grounds


Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

By Greg Stejskal

Jack Clingingsmith had what any car guy would consider a dream job. He was the executive in charge of testing for Buick at the General Motors proving grounds.

GM’s Milford, Michigan proving ground, when it opened in 1924, was the auto industry’s first dedicated testing facility. Today the sprawling 400 acre complex has over 100 buildings and about 132 miles (212 km) of roads. Those roads replicate all types of conditions found on streets and highways throughout North America – from dirt tracks to four lane interstate highways. There are also specialty surfaces to test traction, anti-skid and brake technology.

In 1984 despite Clingingsmith’s dream job, he had serious personal financial problems.

Part of Clingingsmith’s duties was to dispose of test cars after they were no longer of use. Some of these cars were one-of-a-kind prototypes and some had experimental parts using developing technology. For obvious reasons, these cars were not to be sold or driven by unauthorized people. Consequently, the cars were to be destroyed by having them crushed when they were no longer needed for testing.

A crushed car at that time was worth about $90 as scrap metal. However, if the cars were sold for parts, they could bring $1-2,000 each. Clingingsmith had an idea as to how to alleviate his financial problems. He would sell the cars for parts rather than having them crushed. GM wouldn’t know, and he would keep the difference.

In order to do this, he would need to obtain phony documentation to show the cars had been crushed. Part of the disposal process involved having the cars vehicle identification number (VIN) plates removed. Clingingsmith would turn in the VIN plates and advise GM and the Michigan Secretary of State that the cars were destroyed.

Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal

So that Clingingsmith didn’t have to deal with the scrap/auto parts dealer directly, he recruited an associate, Ingo Nicolay, to act as a middleman. Nicolay was the general manager of Johnson Motors, a Pontiac dealership in Holly, Michigan. Clingingsmith knew Nicolay because Johnson Motors had for years done body work on cars GM maintained for their executives.

Nicolay agreed to participate in the scam and in turn recruited Donald Holloway, the owner of Holloway Auto Parts in Flint, a city just north of Holly and once the home of Buick. Holloway was more than willing to buy low mileage, well maintained used cars to be used for auto parts. He was also willing to provide fake bills of sale showing the cars had been crushed.

Between November, 1984 and December, 1985, 14 test cars (13 Buicks and one Oldsmobile) were reported by Clingingsmith to have been destroyed. Actually they had been sold to Holloway for parts.

The conspiracy seemed to be going well, and all the conspirators were happy, but one of them was especially happy.

Even A Better Idea

Holloway upon taking delivery of these pristine used cars had an epiphany – why disassemble these cars to sell for parts when they could be sold whole. These cars hadn’t been reported stolen; in fact, there was no record they even existed. But it probably wouldn’t be wise to sell them locally.

Holloway had done business with a dealership, Fann’s Auto Sales, in Manchester, Tennessee. Holloway told the people at Fann’s that he had a source for “assembled” GM cars. Assembled cars were cars that were built from parts of two or more cars. (This was usually as a result of the cars having been extensively damaged in an accident.) For that reason the VIN plates had been removed. There was a provision under Tennessee law that allowed for assembled cars to be registered and assigned a new VIN.

Read more »

Dozens of FBI Agent Headed to Chattanooga to Crack Mystery of Gunman’s Motive

Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez

Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez

By Steve Neavling

The mystery about what motivated Muhammad Abdulazeez to target military targets has drawn dozens of additional FBI agents to Chattanooga, Tenn., this week, ABC reports. 

Investigators still have not found any connection to ISIS and are now looking at Walmart where the 24-year-old may have joined two other men as he purchased ammunition.

His family has indicated he was showing an elevated interested in powerful weapons.

But his family also said he was often suicidal after losing his job in 2013.

FBI Investigating Whether Gunman in Tennessee Had Ties with ISIS

Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez

Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is trying to determine whether Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, the 24-year-old who killed four Marines and a Navy petty office in Tennessee on Thursday, was involved with ISIS, USA Today reports.

Agents are examining Abdulazeez’s cellphone and computer and investigating his recent trip to Jordan following the shooting.

Family of Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait, said he was depressed “for many years.”

Before the shooting, Abdulazeez reportedly texted an Islamic verse to a friend.

“Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him,” the text read.

Gunmen Abduct Family, Force Husband to Rob Bank

police lightsBy Steve Neavling

Armed gunmen abducted a Tennessee family from their home Tuesday and forced the husband to rob a bank, the FBI said.

The suspects forced the family, which included a bank employee, his wife and their young child, into their own car and drove them to a bank branch in Knoxville Cedar Bluff district, ABC News reports. 

After the husband robbed the bank, he handed the money to the gunmen, who left the man in a parking lot while driving the wife and child, who were hooded, to a nearby intersection.

The FBI is searching for the suspects, who they describe as white males.

Steve Cook Elected President of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys

By Allan Lengel

Steve Cook

Steven H. Cook, chief of the Criminal Division in the Eastern District of Tennessee, has been elected president of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

Cook has been a prosecutor in the Eastern District of Tennessee for 28 years. Over the years, he has worked in the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, the General Crimes Section handling white collar crime, fraud and public corruption cases and as chief of the Narcotics and Violent Crime Section.

“NAAUSA’s first priority is eliminating the large pay gap between new and mid-career AUSAs and their DOJ trial attorney counterparts, improving security for AUSAs and their families and assuring AUSAs have the necessary tools to perform their responsibilities,” he said in a statement.

Others newly elected to the Executive Committee include:

  • Vice President of Policy: John Nordin, Central District of California
  • Vice President for Operations and and Membership: Larry Leiser, Eastern District of Virginia
  • Secretary: Kathleen Bickers, District of Oregon
  • Treasurer: Steve Wasserman, District of Columbia
  • At-Large: Greg Bowman, Eastern District of Tennessee
  • At Large: Karen Escobar, Eastern District of California
  • At-Large: Craig Haller, Western District of Pennsylvania

Ex-FBI Investigator Claims Bureau Hid Evidence in 2001 Anthrax Case

By Steve Neavling

A former director of the FBI’s anthrax investigation claims the bureau hid evidence that would punch holes in the case that Army scientist Bruce Ivins mailed anthrax-laced letters that killed five people and sickened 27 others in 2001, Fox News reports. 

Richard Lambert claims in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tennessee that investigators used flawed scientific methods to arrive at a conclusion to charge Ivins in the anthrax attacks. Ivina later committed suicide before any charges were filed.

Lambert alleges there’s a “wealth” of evidence casting doubt on the case, which “the FBI continues to conceal from Congress and the American people. ”

While he headed up the investigation, he focused heavily on scientist Steven Hatfill.

The FBI declined to comment because of the litigation.