The district attorney from Kingston, Tn., has decided not to seek criminal charges against Chattanooga City Attorney Mike McMahan as recommended by a state comptroller's report.
DA Johnson issued a statement to that effect on Friday.
Mr. Johnson, who heads the DA office for the 9th Judicial District, had conducted an investigation, including interviewing City Attorney McMahan and his attorney, Sam Elliott, in Chattanooga.
DA Johnson said "At that meeting they provided documents supporting how they felt there was not a violation of any law. Also, they argued that McMahan was authorized by the municipal charter to hire and pay staff in the manner that followed an almost 30-year practice of his predecessors. Evidently this practice, from 1962 up until (Stan) Sewell’s audit in 2009, operated with the full knowledge and approval of the mayors and City Council members."
DA Johnson said he also conferred with State Comptroller Justin Wilson, and he said he conferred with a Sept. 30 letter from the comptroller on the issue.
The Wilson letter differed from that of Chadwick Jackson, a staff attorney in the comptroller's office, who had called for prosecution of Mr. McMahan.
A press release from the Johnson office said, "General Johnson concurs with Comptroller Wilson’s analysis of the situation. As a result, this investigation is now concluded and there will be no further action taken by the District Attorney General Pro Tem. Therefore, General Johnson considers this matter to be closed."
DA Johnson earlier said he would forward his findings to the Tennessee District Attorneys Conference and to District Attorney Bill Cox, who recused himself.
Mr. Cox had noted that he has a longtime friendship with Mr. McMahan and they attend church together.
Mayor Ron Littlefield and a number of City Council members earlier said they had no interest in pursuing any action against Mr. McMahan over the former setup on how the city attorney's office was paid.
The mayor said Mr. McMahan was following the same arrangement as was followed for prior city attorneys Eugene Collins and Randy Nelson in which the city paid for secretarial help and office rent for the private firm.
The arrangement was changed after Mr. McMahan became city attorney, the mayor noted. Employees of the firm became city workers and they moved into the City Hall Annex on 11th Street.