THP Investigation Leads to Indictments
Friday, April 01, 2011 | 06:51am
NASHVILLE --- Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott and District Attorney General Mike Dunavant of the 25th Judicial District announced a number of criminal indictments against several individuals following a Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) investigation of an alleged “chop shop” in Gallaway, Tennessee.
A Fayette County Grand Jury on Monday, March 28 returned indictments against 11 defendants on auto theft and scrap metal violations charges. Six of the defendants have been taken into custody and were arraigned in Fayette County Circuit Court on Thursday:
- Commie Dean Collier - Theft over $1,000;
- Larry Caleb Fish - Theft over $1,000;
- Larry Henderson - Theft over $1,000;
- Charlie W. Simpson, III. (AKA Bill Simpson) - Illegal chop shop, purchasing prohibited types of scrap metal (2 counts), violation of motor vehicle dismantler, recycler, or scrap metal processor requirements, theft over $500;
- Doris A. Simpson - Illegal chop shop, purchasing prohibited types of scrap metal (2 counts), violation of motor vehicle dismantler, recycler, or scrap metal processor requirements, theft over $500; and
- Bobby L. Kellum - Illegal chop shop, purchasing prohibited types of scrap metal (2 counts), violation of motor vehicle dismantler, recycler, or scrap metal processor requirements, theft over $500.
Warrants have been issued for five other individuals. Under Tennessee law, it is illegal to identify or confirm that someone has been indicted by a grand jury if that person is not in custody.
The indictments stem from an investigation that started last September when information was received about an alleged chop shop – an illegal location or business which disassembles stolen automobiles for the purpose of selling the parts. Agents with the THP Criminal Investigation Division, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office A.L.E.R.T. detectives, and officers from the Memphis Cargo Theft Task Force executed a search warrant on September 21, 2010 at West Tennessee Recycling in Gallaway. Over the course of three days, investigators recovered 14 vehicles stolen from Shelby and Fayette Counties. The total value of the vehicles recovered was $37,000. Special agents from the THP Criminal Investigation Division, continued to investigate, which led to the discovery of several individuals allegedly involved in a chop shop operation.
“I am proud of the work of the criminal investigators in this case, who went beyond the search warrant and continued to investigate, exposing an auto theft ring and illegal chop shop,” said Colonel Trott. “The Tennessee Highway Patrol not only keeps our state’s interstates and highways safe, but this case demonstrates how the THP works hard to protect citizens everywhere,” he added.
“The THP investigators did an excellent job in this case. Based on the evidence they uncovered, we allege that several of these defendants have stolen vehicles in Shelby County and brought them to Fayette County to illegally sell or scrap,” said District Attorney Dunavant.
Each of the defendants was booked into the Fayette County Jail. They are scheduled to return to Fayette County Circuit Court on April 13.