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Former Tenn. House Speaker Casada, chief of staff indicted in 'bribery and kickback conspiracy'

Stephen Jerkins
Former House Speaker Glen Casada and his chief of staff Cade Cothren have been arrested and accused of funneling state money through a sham company to provide mailers for legislators.

Former Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Glen Casada and his chief of staff, Cade Cothren, have been arrested on bribery and conspiracy charges.

The U.S. Attorney for Nashville says both were indicted by a grand jury on Monday. The FBI arrested them at their homes Tuesday morning. 

The 20-count indictment, unsealed Tuesday, charges Casada and Cothren with fabricating a fictitious political consultant named “Matthew Phoenix” to set up Phoenix Solutions in late 2019, the year Casada resigned as House Speaker. The company offered campaign services to other legislators.
According to federal prosecutors, the company submitted sham invoices to the state, secretly funneled state money through the company’s bank accounts, and engaged in bribery and kickback schemes.

They are accused of receiving nearly $52,000 from the state mailer program in 2020.If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.  

The indictment also mentions another “conspirator” who is described as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives but is not named and is not part of the indictment.

In March, former state Rep. Robin Smith pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud related to her role convincing legislative leaders to use Phoenix Solutions for constituent mailers. She’s scheduled to be sentenced in October.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Nina Cardona
Blake Farmer is Nashville Public Radio's senior health care reporter. In a partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, Blake covers health in Tennessee and the health care industry in the Nashville area for local and national audiences.
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