George Thacker, county executive for Rhea County for the past 12 years, has been charged with wire fraud in federal court.
Thacker is set to plead guilty in the case in which he was charged with using COVID relief funds for small businesses to invest in cryptocurrency. He is charged with one count of wire fraud for misuse of Payroll Protection Program money in the amount of $650,000.
Thacker filed with the Rhea County Election Commission to withdraw from the Aug.
2nd County General election. He was elected to office in 2010 by defeating sitting County Executive Billy Ray Patton by only 296 votes.
No reason was given to the election commission and Thacker was unavailable for comment, Thursday afternoon.
Deputy Administrator of Elections Felicia Goodman said that with Thacker's withdrawal, this activates Section 2-13-204 of the Tennessee Code Annotated which covers the withdrawal or death of candidate. That allows one more week for interested persons to submit a qualifying petition to the election commission before 12 noon on Thursday, April 20.
County Commission Chairman Jim Vincent said that he has been in contact with Thatcher, but he has not tendered a resignation from his office.
“We will be in discussion with County Attorney Carol Ann Baron on how to proceed in the matter if that time comes,” said Chairman Vincent.
The Rhea County Commission has a regular scheduled meeting for next Tuesday starting at 5 p.m. with the regular meeting to follow at 6.
According to the filing, punishment for the offense is a term of imprisonment of no more than 20 years and a fine of not more than $250,000. He would also have to be on supervised parole for not more than three years.
Thacker's attorney, Lee Davis, said,, “None of the funds in this case have anything to do with Rhea County or Thacker’s position as county executive. The funds were used in a personal capacity. There are no allegations of wrongdoing in his capacity as Rhea County Executive.”
A criminal information says Thacker set out to enrich himself using Payroll Protection Funds under false pretenses.
The PPF funds were not designed for personal investments or to purchase consumer goods, it was stated.
Thacker owned the Thacker Corporation, headquartered in Rhea County.
He sought a loan through Regions Bank for $257,800. He said he would use the proceeds of the loan for payroll and utilities.
He also applied for a separate $150,000 government loan for working capital.
The criminal information says he did not use either of the loans for the stated purposes.
He transferred the funds to his personal account and used for his own purposes, it was stated. The money was used for trading in cryto funds.
The government says Thacker must return at least $660,000.