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FBI agent says Rose Thorn continues

Last updated: 8:43 PM, 04/07/2008

Source: The Newport Plain Talk

NEWPORT- The public corruption case known as "Rose Thorn" in Cocke County is still ongoing, FBI Agent Tom Farrow told the Newport Kiwanis Club this week. Farrow said Rose Thorn is now in the prosecution stage of its investigation. He also said the $400,000 figure reported for the operation was overinflated, but declined to give a more specific figure. Farrow said he could not talk about names involved in the case, except for those already arrested and convicted. The agent said he and his wife, also a FBI agent, were transferred to Eastern Tennessee in 2000 from Florida. "We thought we were coming to Sleepy Hollow," he said. "We thought we would get ourselves a nice house on a mountainside and ease into retirement. But, of course, we have been quite busy." Farrow said it is evident that the chicken fights in Del Rio and other communities of the county had been going on for 60 years or more. The FBI did not have a good relationship with the local law enforcement officials. Farrow said they decided to start snooping around the county. Then they decided to do another undercover operation, the third in Cocke County in recent history. "It took a lot longer than I thought it would," Farrow said. "There was no one big bang or smoking gun that led us to begin this operation. It was an accumulation of events." Farrow explained why the FBI gets involved in such operations. "You can say that these are smaller, lower-level crimes, who really cares," he stated. "But what you have here is a pattern of behavior that holds a county back. You look at Sevier or Greene County and Cocke County is thought of differently. The citizens should care that there is corruption." The agent illustrated the reason people should care. "Young Deputy Joe Dodgin, when he was being sentenced, told the judge that he saw paybacks take place involving law enforcement and chicken fights, liquor sales and illegal poker video games. He said he wanted some of that money. "When things like this are allowed to continue, it's easy to lose sight of what's important," he continued. "When you call 911 and need the assistance of a law enforcement officer, you have the right to expect an officer who is knowledgeable, neutral and more than anything, honest. "You have to be honest. My wife once arrested her supervisor for stealing $400,000." Farrow mentioned that the recent LA Times article was nothing more than a cheap shot against the community. "Rose Thorn was never intended to end illegal drug trafficking or chop shops," Farrow said. "That's not the federal governments role. What the intention was is to give local county leaders a foothold to go down a new road." Farrow was asked whether the FBI will be back for another undercover operation. "That's up to you guys. When the public starts demanding absolute honesty, things will change. If you don't demand honesty, things will drift back to the old days. You get what you demand." Where did the name Rose Thorn come from? "It means nothing," Farrow responded, adding that is the one question he is asked more than anything else. "The top office called me and gave me five names to choose from for the operation. Initially I chose 'Broad Shield,' but they called back the next day and said that name was already taken, so we chose Rose Thorn."

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