The Rev. C. Eugene Overstreet, self-proclaimed confidential witness in the case of former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long, said Wednesday that he would be happy to testify in person at the upcoming sentencing hearing.
There is no need for Mr. Long’s attorney, Jerry Summers, to fight for a copy of a television news interview with him, Mr. Overstreet said.
“He had the chance to put me on the stand, and he still does,” said Mr. Overstreet, the witness federal authorities used to charge Mr. Long with extortion, money laundering, drug and gun violations.
On Monday, Mr. Long pleaded guilty to 27 of the 28 charges against him, including possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. His sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 18.
A sentence on the intent to distribute charge could range from 10 years to life, but Mr. Summers said he plans to argue for less than the mandatory minimum of 10 years. A WTVC-Newschannel 9 interview with Mr. Overstreet that first aired Tuesday night contains evidence that would bolster his argument, Mr. Summers said in a motion filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Because Newschannel 9 declined to release the tape to him, Mr. Summers asked the court to order the station to do so.
“If the full interview conducted of Mr. Overstreet by (reporter) John Madewell is not preserved and turned over to the Court and parties, irreparable harm will be done to the defendant, and his Due Process rights will be violated,” Mr. Summers wrote in the motion.
During a courthouse interview with local news media in February, Mr. Summers named Mr. Overstreet as the convicted felon federal authorities used to press charges against Mr. Long.
Mr. Overstreet confirmed that he is on probation for writing a bad check and said he still is paying restitution in the case. He also is a recovering drug addict, he said, but now is a traveling evangelist.
“What is he bothering me for?” Mr. Overstreet said of Mr. Summers. “If I was not (a credible witness), then (Mr. Long) wouldn’t be getting sentenced, would he?”
“It’s not my investigation. It’s not my sting ring,” he said. “If you read the transcript, it’s the United States versus William Long. Not C.E. Overstreet.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Humble, who is prosecuting the case, said he did not join Mr. Summer’s request for the TV tape because his office does not take positions on First Amendment issues. He said he had no comment on Mr. Summers’ pursuit of the material.
Newschannel 9 General Manager Mike Costa said the station is aware of the request for the interview tape but is not immediately inclined to comply.
“We’re consulting with our attorneys, but we are not in the habit of releasing our raw footage,” Mr. Costa said.
Mr. Summers said Wednesday he could not comment further on the issue and declined to cite any particular contents of the interview he thought could serve as evidence.
“The motion speaks for itself,” he said.
He also declined to respond to statements from Mr. Overstreet, who said Wednesday that the attorney unfairly has attacked his reputation.
Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Edward Galloway of the FBI’s Chattanooga office would neither confirm nor deny the identity of the confidential witness. He declined any comment on the case Wednesday.