A lawyer for the Rev. Clarence Overstreet, who is federal prosecutors’ star witness in their case against former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long, says the “persistent maligning” of his client’s character is making it hard for Mr. Overstreet to earn a living and pay restitution on unrelated bad check charges.
Mr. Overstreet was arrested in September after authorities said he violated probation on worthless check charges by traveling outside the state without permission and failing to pay restitution. He later was released on $500 bond.
On Wednesday, Mr. Overstreet’s lawyer, Stanley Lanzo, asked Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole for an additional 90 days to make restitution. Mr. Overstreet is scheduled to appear in court today on the charges.
In a three-page motion, Mr. Lanzo writes that Mr. Overstreet is “not a perfect man as most confidential witnesses are not,” but the constant media scrutiny brought on by Mr. Long’s lawyers is making it hard for Mr. Overstreet to run his business or earn a living.
“Clarence Overstreet does not claim to be a saint; however, he is the victim of a defense strategy which has centered wholly on destroying his professional and personal reputation,” Mr. Lanzo wrote.
Local reporters have staked out Mr. Overstreet’s business, Family Mortuary, which has made it hard for him to attract clients, Mr. Lanzo claims. And all the focus on Mr. Overstreet’s character would make it impossible for him to obtain even a minimum-wage job, he said.
Jerry Summers, Mr. Long’s defense attorney, was the first publicly to identify Mr. Overstreet as the FBI’s confidential informant. Nearly a dozen motions filed in federal court have sought to show Mr. Overstreet was a manipulative person who guided Mr. Long into criminal conduct.
Reached Wednesday evening, Mr. Summers said he had no comment on the motion.
“Everything I have filed in that case has been a matter of public record, and Judge Sandy Mattice (the federal district court judge in Mr. Long’s case) will determine whether my allegations have any validity or not,” Mr. Summers said.
In May, Mr. Long pleaded guilty to a total of 19 crimes after a year-long undercover sting that revealed he had been taking protection money from local convenience store owners, laundering money, allowing a convicted felon to use one of his firearms and making arrangements to smuggle drug money out of Mexico in a ruse set up by the FBI, according to prosecutors.
Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...