Mayor Megan Barry Resigns After Pleading Guilty To Felony Theft | Nashville Public Radio

Mayor Megan Barry Resigns After Pleading Guilty To Felony Theft

Mar 6, 2018

This post was last updated at 11:50 p.m.

Mayor Megan Barry announced her resignation at around 10 a.m. this morning, after pleading guilty to theft of property over $10,000 in court today.

She faces three years of unsupervised probation and will repay $11,000, according to court documents. Part of her deal included the stipulation that she would resign from public office as Mayor today.

If Barry had gone to trial and been found guilty, she could have been sentenced between three to 15 years in prison. 

This comes barely five weeks after disclosing her two-year affair with the head of her security detail Sgt. Rob Forrest. Multiple investigations have been ramping up in recent weeks around whether Forrest and Barry broke any laws.

Shortly after Barry's announcement, Sgt. Forrest also pleaded guilty to felony theft and will be required to reimburse the city $45,000 for overtime he was paid while not performing official duties. He'll also serve three years of probation. 

More: What Would Happen If Nashville's Mayor Were To Resign?

Calls for Barry to resign have been popping up in yard signs around town in recent weeks, amid charges that the mayor's affair reveals poor judgment and possible conflicts of interest. She is being investigated by a Metro Council special committee and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for potential misuse of funds.

More salacious chatter about locked cell phones and nude photos provides new grist for the gossip mill, making it harder for Barry to change the subject. Still, a recent Vanderbilt University poll found Barry holding onto a 61 percent approval rating.

Underscoring the timing of Barry's departure is the looming May 1 referendum on Barry's ambitious and expensive transit plan, by far the biggest political battle of her tenure. 

According to Metro Charter guidelines, Vice Mayor David Briley will take over as mayor until an election can be held in August. Briley is holding a press conference later today.

What Happens To The Investigations?

Following the guilty pleas today, Glenn Funk met with the TBI and informed them that the probe into this matter could be closed. The TBI confirmed they are wrapping up their investigation. By state statute, TBI investigative reports are not public records.

The Council’s Special Committee met Tuesday night after a Metro Council meeting. The group decided to keep the committee going for the time being, though did agree to some changes.

Councilman Robert Swope pointed out that while their initial goal was to find out if there had been any wrongdoing, Barry’s resignation and conditional guilty plea to a charge of felony theft answered that question. The panel agreed the goal should move past what happened and ask how to stop it from happening again.

 

Earlier in the day, Nashville’s new mayor, David Briley told reporters he didn’t think the committee was still necessary and encouraged members to reconsider the cost of hiring an outside law firm to investigate.

While the panel did not disband, they did agree to limit the amount of hours the lawyers work for the time being to keep costs down.

Metro’s Ethical Conduct Board still plans to meet Wednesday morning as scheduled to discuss opening its own investigation into a formal complaint filed by an activist.