published Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

TBI investigating City of East Ridge over forged law

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is looking into whether someone forged an East Ridge city ordinance.

Hamilton County District Attorney General Bill Cox asked the TBI to investigate an ordinance that deals with the city's tow truck law, Bureau spokeswoman Illana Tate said in an email this morning. East Ridge City Attorney Hal North said he met with the district attorney's office on Tuesday to talk about the issue.

North declined to comment further on the investigation. Tate, meanwhile, said she could not say when the TBI launched its investigation, when the ordinance was falsified or whether investigators have any suspects in the case.

According to City Ordinance 787, East Ridge can only partner with three wrecker companies. Each week, the partnership rotates.

So, on week 1, Company 1 tows all the busted vehicles in East Ridge. In week 2, Company 2 takes over. On week 3, Company 3 does the same thing. Then, on week 4, Company 1 gets the business again. And so on.

Also according to the ordinance, nobody can own more than one company that partners with the city. However, according to Hamilton County business tax findings, Grover Broome owns two such companies: Broome's Wrecker Service and East Ridge Auto Electric.

In a Times Free Press article about this issue last October, Broome said the city's copy of the ordinance was incorrect. Broome has a different copy of the ordinance that says certain companies with a long history in town are "grandfathered in." Because Broome's companies have both been around since 1980, he says he can use both businesses for separate partnerships with the city.

In other words, Broome gets two-thirds of the city's tow truck business. At the time of the article, then-City Manager Freida Wheeler said she had seen the ordinance that Broome has, and that East Ridge officials were investigating the issue.

Both contradictory ordinances were supposedly passed in East Ridge in 2007. It is unclear which of the two ordinances was falsified. None of the five East Ridge City Council members immediately returned calls seeking comment today.

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