The confidential informant in the federal government’s case against former Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long was arrested Wednesday after violating his probation by traveling outside the state without permission and failing to pay restitution on bad checks he had written.
The Rev. Eugene Overstreet was taken into custody Wednesday morning before making $500 bond that afternoon.
Hamilton County Criminal Court personnel received a probation violation report from the State of Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole alleging that Mr. Overstreet traveled without permission, did not report to his supervisor, did not pay restitution and did not submit a DNA sample, according to an order filed Monday by Judge Don Poole.
Mr. Overstreet allegedly left the county and state on Aug. 21 to travel to Charlotte, N.C., without the permission of his probation officers, according to the order. He also missed appointments with his probation officer at least three times, the order said.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Mr. Overstreet said he had no comment about his arrest or why he violated his probation and failed to pay restitution.
Mr. Overstreet told his probation officer he traveled to Charlotte to preach at a revival, according to the court order. He also said he fears for his life, does not feel comfortable in public and cannot work his funeral business because of publicity about Mr. Long’s case. He said he wants to pay the restitution and fees but cannot afford them, according to the order.
In 2006, Mr. Overstreet was ordered to pay $11,000 in restitution for passing worthless checks, the court order said. He was supposed to pay $230 per month until the $11,000 was paid off, according to the order.
He also was sentenced to four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, but Judge Poole suspended that sentence, instead placing Mr. Overstreet on four years of probation, according to the court order.
Working with the FBI, Mr. Overstreet helped agents get Mr. Long charged with 27 counts, including extortion, money laundering and possession with intent to sell cocaine.
Mr. Long’s attorney, Jerry Summers, said Wednesday he did not think Mr. Overstreet’s arrest would “help or hurt what we’re trying to do. I think it’s just a part of the overall picture.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Humble, the prosecutor in the case against Mr. Long, also said the arrest will not affect his case because Mr. Long already pleaded guilty to a minimum 10-year prison sentence.
“Whether the cooperating witness is a criminal or not makes no difference at all,” Mr. Humble said. “In almost every drug case, you have criminals involved with criminals.”
Mr. Overstreet made bond with the help of Liberty Bonding Co., which is owned by Chattanooga City Councilman Leamon Pierce.
In 2001, Mr. Overstreet promised to give $100,000 to needy children in Chattanooga but a year later, when Mr. Pierce questioned Mr. Overstreet about his promise, Mr. Overstreet told the council he would hand it over only if Mr. Pierce resigned, council minutes show.