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Sheriff had bond for “special friend” reduced by $29,000

Regarding sheriff Eric Watson’s behavior on behalf of his “special friend” Meagan Free, we keep receiving cynical, accusatory emails and messages calling us liars and daring us to produce paper to prove our “charges” against him.

First, we’ve made no charges. We have passed along witness reports and linked to the Times Free Press’ coverage of the matter. However, if it’s paper you want, it’s paper you shall have.

Bear in mind, Judge Sheridan Randolph has said publicly, that he would have set bond at $30K for the charges filed against Meagan Free (robbery/probation violation). Instead, on the sheriff’s recommendation, the judge set bond at $1,000. So, instead of paying $3,000 for a bondsman to get her out of jail (10% of $30,000), Meagan only had to produce $100 (10% of $1,000).

Interestingly, the bonding company that handled Meagan’s bond was none other than Cumberland Bail Bonds, the company that hired the sheriff’s wife, Tenille Crabtree Watson, five months ago. She received her license in February of this year and, within two months, had already written more bonds than the next-largest bonding company had with three experienced bondsmen.

In fact, Tenille’s bond-writing prowess helped increase Cumberland’s share of the Bradley County bonding pie from less than a quarter in 2015 (March/April), to more than a third for the same period this year (2016).

Records also show that Cumberland Bail Bonds owner Andy Baggenstoss gave Eric Watson $1,500 in 2012 for his State House race, and $1,000 in 2014 for his sheriff's race.

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