Former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long, arrested in February on federal extortion, money laundering, drug and gun charges, is expected to modify his not guilty plea in federal court today.
Mr. Long is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Harry S. Mattice at 3 p.m. for a “rearraignment.”
Mr. Long had faced a deadline last week to sign a plea bargain with the government to avoid trial. Today’s hearing originally was scheduled as a pretrial conference, according to court records.
Authorities arrested Mr. Long on Feb. 2 after a federal investigation that had gone on for at least a year involving a confidential informant the former sheriff believed to be his “partner,” according to the indictment.
The former sheriff entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga on March 5.
The “partner” was cooperating with the FBI, the indictment states.
Mr. Long and his partner allegedly tried to extort at least $38,000 in early 2007 from Indian convenience store owners, who apparently had not made good on a $50,000 campaign promise, according to the indictment.
Former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long is charged with 19 counts of extortion, six counts of money laundering, one count of providing a firearm and ammunition to a felon, one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.
The indictment shows he eventually collected payments totaling $17,600 in exchange for protecting illegal activity at the convenience stores, including the sale of ingredients to make methamphetamine and the operation of illegal gambling machines.
In an undercover drug sting by the FBI in late 2007, Mr. Long also accepted cash payments to help launder money from supposed drug sales back to Mexico, the indictment states.
Mr. Long is represented by Chattanooga attorney Jerry Summers.