State safety officials have ordered the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office to seize a car Sheriff Jim Hammond had released improperly to its owner earlier this year.
The light blue 1990 Lincoln Town Car was sitting at the county narcotics impound lot near Silverdale Detention Center on Friday afternoon.
"The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office released the vehicle to the owner before any order was ever issued by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security," said Dayla Qualls, public information officer. "The seizing agency was then informed to retrieve the vehicle back from the owner, which they did."
On April 13, a sheriff's deputy arrested the son of the car's owner, Marcia Tenenbaum, after finding marijuana and cash in the car during a traffic stop.
In an Oct. 29 petition to the state, Tenenbaum explained how she got her car back so quickly.
"The sheriff advised me under the circumstances he would return my car to me," Tenenbaum wrote.
She said she thought the matter was a done deal.
"At that time I thought we had made a civil settlement. ... I thought I had done as I was told," she wrote.
Tenenbaum never responded to certified letters from the state explaining how she could retrieve her car. After the deadline to respond lapsed, the car became property of the state.
She did not return a phone call Friday afternoon seeking comment.
Tenenbaum's petition was denied on Nov. 20. She now has 60 days from date of the final order to seek judicial review with Davidson County Chancery Court to get the car back.
In her petition, she estimates her vehicle is worth $300 because the car has been driven nearly 200,000 miles and needs repairs.
In a previous interview, Hammond denied releasing the car to Tenenbaum without the state's consent. An internal affairs investigation was opened to find out how the car was released shortly after a Times Free Press story appeared about the vehicle release. A deputy had asked that an investigation be launched in September.
Janice Atkinson, public information officer for the sheriff's office, said the investigation is still open.
Hammond said he asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate. As of Thursday, the TBI case remained open, according to Kristin Helm, public information officer for the agency.