TMVC closes Watson complaint with warning

By BRIAN GRAVES brian.graves@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 4/26/17

The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission has closed its case against Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson with a letter of warning.

The decision came during a meeting of the state commission on …

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TMVC closes Watson complaint with warning

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The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission has closed its case against Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson with a letter of warning.

The decision came during a meeting of the state commission on Monday.

The commission responded to allegations which were made by a Chattanooga newspaper suggesting that Watson was "curbstoning," the practice of selling open-title cars on the side of the road.

In December, Larry Walters, communications director for the Tennessee Department of Insurance and Commerc, confirmed to the Cleveland Daily Banner that the commission opened complaints “related to a recent story that appeared [in a Chattanooga newspaper].”

Walters said at the time a check of the Motor Vehicle Commission files showed no evidence of a complaint or reports of off-site sales or curbstoning in the Cleveland area, in reference to the business or individual during the past 12 months.

"Watson is properly licensed through September 2018, and is associated with Best Buy Auto & Leasing which is properly licensed through March 2018 and is owned by Everett E. Pierce," Walters noted.

The registered letter from the commission’s assistant general counsel, Matthew Reddish, was received Tuesday by Watson.

The text of the letter is reprinted here in its entirety:

“Dear Mr. Watson,

“I serve as legal counsel for the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission. The commission opened a complaint against you following receipt of allegations that you engaged in unlicensed activities by selling more motor vehicles than is permitted by law without a license from the commission.

“Tenn. Code Annotated 55-17-117(a) states: The Commission may impose a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 per offense for each day of violation or for each act of violation. At its April 2017 meeting, the Commission, after consideration of an investigation of this matter, voted to close the above-referenced complaint with this letter of warning for potential violations of Tenn. Code Ann. 55-17-109(a)(1) [Requirement of License] and Tenn. Comp. Rules & Regulations 0960-01-.20 [Sales of Used Motor Vehicles by Unlicensed Individuals].

“Although this letter of warning does not constitute formal disciplinary action, a copy of the same will be placed in your file maintained in the program’s office and may be considered should any future action arise. This matter will be closed upon receipt of this letter.”

Walters confirmed the commission’s findings in an email to the Cleveland Daily Banner.

“At the April meeting of the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission, members voted to authorize the case against Eric Watson be closed with a letter of warning for potential violations of Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0960-01-.20 and T.C.A. 55-17-109,” Walters said. “The Commission also authorized a referral of the case to [the Tennessee Department of] Revenue to investigate questions of sales tax compliance. Commission members voted to authorize the case be closed against Best Buy Auto with a letter of warning for potential violations of T.C.A. 55-17-110. “

Bills of sale obtained by the Daily Banner shows sales taxes were paid on the vehicles in question.

Watson told the Cleveland Daily Banner Tuesday night he appreciated the commission’s decision and is planning to have more to say on the matter later this week.

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