The FBI announced the arrest of a Republican Tennessee lawmaker and his former chief of staff. The arrests were made Tuesday morning following indictments charging the two with participating in a bribery and kickback scheme.
Republican State Rep. Glen Casada and Cade Cothren, 35, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Monday. They are accused of coordinating a fake constituent mailing program designed to “enrich themselves,” according to the Justice Department.
According to Fox News, FBI agents arrested Casada and Cothren at their respective homes on Tuesday morning.
Casada and Cothren will both make their initial appearances before a U.S. magistrate judge within 24 hours.
Fox reports that “the 20-count indictment comes following a monthslong federal corruption investigation and represents the first time a current or former Tennessee speaker of the House has been indicted.”
Casada was said to be one of Tennessee’s most powerful Republicans, though he did not seek reelection this year. He resigned as House speaker in 2019 after reportedly exchanging explicit and racist text messages with Cothren, who at that time was serving as Casada’s chief of staff.
Casada’s legal troubles have been brewing for months. The FBI raided Casada’s home and offices in January 2021 and in March of this year. A review of items seized during those searches led to the indictments and Tuesday morning arrests.
In March of this year, Tennessee Rep. Robin Smith resigned from her position after being implicated in an alleged wire fraud scheme involving Casada. Smith pleaded guilty to federal charges.
According to a report by Fox News, in the fall of 2019, “Casada, then representing Tennessee House District 63, Cothren, and another unnamed conspirator — also a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives — allegedly engaged in a fraudulent scheme to enrich themselves by exploiting Casada and the other conspirator’s official positions as legislators to have ‘Phoenix Solutions’ approved by the state as a mailer program vendor to provide constituent mail services to members of the Tennessee General Assembly.”
The 20-count indictment that was unsealed on Tuesday noted that Casada, Cothren and the other conspirator attempted to obtain state funds for services rendered by fake operations known as Phoenix Solutions, Casada’s political consulting business, and a political consulting business owned by the other conspirator.
The FBI also alleges that Casada and the other conspirator plotted to enrich themselves via bribes and kickbacks in exchange for authorizing Phoenix Solutions as a mailer program vendor.
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