published Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond won't be charged in seized Town Car case

This is the Lincoln Town Car involved in the controversy with Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond.
This is the Lincoln Town Car involved in the controversy with Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond.
Photo by Staff File Photo.

The Hamilton County District Attorney's Office found this week that there was no criminal conduct when Sheriff Jim Hammond gave a woman back a car seized during a drug arrest last year.

District Attorney Bill Cox issued a memo this week to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that stated, "A review of the investigative file by this office confirmed that there was neither criminal intent or criminal conduct by the sheriff or members of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, and therefore, no prosecution will ensue."

Marcia Tenenbaum, who said she attended classes at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga with the sheriff, called Hammond in April 2012 after her son was stopped while driving her 1990 Lincoln Town Car. Her son, Jeremy Tenenbaum, was arrested for felony possession after 15 ounces of marijuana and a couple hundred dollars were found in the car, according to a police report.

Tenenbaum said Hammond released the car to her within a few days. However, forfeiture paperwork already was filed with the state. She never responded to mailed notices to appear at hearings to legally get her car back. The state denied her request for reconsideration in November, and there's no record that she filed an appeal.

After the Chattanooga Times Free Press ran stories on the release of the vehicle, the sheriff's office took back the car, and Hammond asked the TBI to look into the matter.

"Special Agent Luke Mahonen reported that he found no evidence to support any monetary or other personal benefit to the sheriff or any member of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office as a result of, or as a motivation for, returning the vehicle," the memo states.

The sheriff's office also launched an internal affairs investigation, which spokeswoman Janice Atkinson said Friday remains open.

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