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State Vet: ‘Wild-Appearing Swine’ Must Have ID

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture; July 3, 2013:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture today announced a revised Order by the State Veterinarian specifying conditions under which wild-appearing hogs are to be transported in the state.

The revised order, which went into effect June 10, is in support of legislation passed last year by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam making it illegal to transport and release wild-appearing hogs without documentation from the department.

“Wild hogs have the propensity to reproduce in great numbers, carry diseases, destroy crops and cause serious ecological damage,” state veterinarian Charles Hatcher, DVM, said. “The new order strengthens efforts to prevent the illegal transportation and releasing of wild hogs by requiring individual animal identification and documentation for all wild-appearing hogs being moved.”

Wild hogs are typically two to three feet tall and up to five feet long with larger heads and heavier shoulders compared to domesticated breeds. Wild hogs also have smaller, pointed and heavily furred ears, longer snouts, tusks and straight tails.

The previous order exempted individual animal identification in specific cases. The revised order requires all wild-appearing swine being moved within Tennessee to have state or federally approved individual animal identification and:

  • Proof that each individual animal has tested negative for Pseudorabies and Brucellosis within 90 days of movement; or
  • Proof that each individual animal originated from a Validated Brucellosis-free and Qualifed Pseudorabies-negative herd; or
  • Have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from a Tennessee licensed and USDA accredited veterinarian listing each animal; or
  • A movement authorization number from the state veterinarian’s office for wild-appearing hogs being moved directly to an approved slaughter facility or slaughter-only market.

Authorization numbers for wild-appearing hogs intended for slaughter can be obtained by phone Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. central time by calling the state veterinarian’s office at 615-837-5120. Producers will be required to provide information including the number of swine and the place of origin and destination.

For more information or to view the state veterinarian’s order visit TDA at www.tn.gov/agriculture and click on the Animal Health Information link.

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Fmr. Safety Dept. Employee Admits Taking $20K in Bribes for Licenses, Permits

A former Tennessee Department of Safety employee pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to one count of accepting more than $5,000 in bribes related to issuing driver’s licenses and permits to unauthorized individuals.

Larry Murphy, 54, of Antioch, had been charged with one count of accepting bribes and one count of conspiracy to produce identification documents without lawful authority while employed as a supervisory license examiner for the Department of Safety at the Hart Lane licensing facility in Nashville, according to court documents.

Murphy, a Gulf War veteran and Army retiree, was indicted, along with co-defendant Anny Castillo-Diaz, in May, following a five-month joint investigation by the FBI, the Federal Department of Homeland Security and the Tennessee Department of Safety, according to court documents.

The indictment charged that Murphy had accepted bribes from Castillo in order to produce driver’s licenses and permits for individuals who had either not taken or not passed the necessary exams.

At his hearing in Nashville before U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp, Murphy admitted that during the period between December 2011 and April 2012 he had unlawfully received at least $20,000 in bribes for issuing unauthorized licenses and permits, including special commercial permits for large trucks.

Many of these transactions occurred while being recorded by undercover agents posing as customers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Middle District of Tennessee.

According to his plea agreement, Murphy must forfeit all compensation received for the licenses issued.

“The defendant not only violated the law, he put the public’s safety at risk,” Bill Gibbons, commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security, said in a news release. “That behavior will not be tolerated.

Murphy’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 15. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Castillo, who is charged with paying bribes, conspiracy to produce identification documents without lawful authority, unlawful sale of U.S. citizenship documents and the sale of a Social Security card, had been scheduled to go to trial Tuesday morning, according to court documents.

However, she made a motion for a change of plea to guilty, and a hearing on that motion is now scheduled for today.

Alex Harris is with the Seigenthaler News Service-MTSU. He can be reached at alexander.harris.lf@gmail.com.

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Press Releases

State Announces Creation of New Identity-Crimes Unit

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security; August 28, 2012:

NASHVILLE—Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons announced today the formation of a new investigative unit to combat the increase in identity theft and related crimes in Tennessee. The newly formed Identity Crimes Unit is comprised of employees from three divisions of the department: Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security, and Driver Services Division.

Additionally, the Identity Crimes Unit is receiving support from federal partners. The United States Secret Service Nashville and Memphis field offices; Homeland Security Investigations, under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Memphis division, are supporting the Identity Crimes Unit in investigations with possible federal violations.

The new unit is the direct outgrowth of the department’s top-to-bottom review requested last year by Governor Bill Haslam.

“As part of the top-to-bottom review, we focused on the needs of our citizens and the law enforcement community, as well as ways we could maximize the effective use of the resources we have,” Gibbons said.

According to the Consumer Sentinel Network, a date base used by law enforcement to collect consumer complaints, in 2011 there were 4,275 complaints of identity theft filed in Tennessee, compared to 4,175 filed in 2010. Nationwide, in 2011 there were 279,156 complaints of identity theft filed, compared to 258,854 filed in 2010.

“Identity crimes are a growing part of our crime problem, and many local law enforcement agencies struggle with investigating these cases. In addition, the Highway Patrol has specific authority under state law to investigate identity theft, there are obvious homeland security concerns with such crimes, and many identity crimes relate to driver licenses. So, we see it as a great opportunity for all three divisions of the department—our state troopers, homeland security agents, and driver license examiners—to work together as a team,” Gibbons noted.

The Identity Crimes Unit provides support to local law enforcement upon request, but will consider several factors to determine the level of involvement. Some of these factors include fraudulent use of a driver license; a nexus to homeland security issues; cooperation of victims; violation of Tennessee’s felony theft law; the number, financial amount, and frequency of transactions; and referral from a federal agency. Investigators and staff assigned to the Identity Crimes Unit have been training for months to increase skills in the area of identity crimes and collect best practices for this type of investigating from other states.

The unit has created a resource kit for identity theft victims and has linked it to www.tn.gov/safety. Investigators will also participate in programs and events to encourage identity theft awareness, distribute educational materials to safeguard against identity crimes, and encourage the public to take proactive steps to reduce the debilitating impacts of identity crimes.