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Judge refuses Headleys request to expunge record after five years

Special Circuit Court Judge Kerry Blackwood on Monday refused to grant former Sheriff Ricky Headley’s request for judicial diversion after he completes five years probation as part of a plea agreement on misdemeanor prescription drug charges.

On Feb. 13, Headley pled guilty to four misdemeanor counts of simple possession in Davidson County and one count of conspiracy to commit official misconduct in Williamson County. Each charge carried a suspended sentence of 11 months, 29 days on probation.

“I don’t think the interest of justice is served (by granting judicial diversion,” said Blackwood. “As painful as it may be Mr. Headley, I deny your application for judicial diversion.”

Blackwood said that Headley met many of the factors for judicial diversion, which would have allowed the charges to be removed from his record if he successfully completes his probationary period, but he said the fact that Headley had violated his oath of office weighed in his decision.

“That is what differentiates us from the ordinary person who didn’t ask for this position and becomes addicted to painkillers,” Blackwood said. “Certainly the violation of the oath of office weighs heavily against this application.

“Judicial diversion in my mind is an opportunity for somebody to wipe the slate clean,” Blackwood said, adding that should be encouraged in our society.

“Certainly Mr. Headley’s violation as the chief law enforcement officer was a violation of the public trust he assumed when he was elected sheriff,” Blackwood said. “The public has the right to expect and demand … the sheriff maintain the respect and confidence of his office.”

For the first time in the case, Headley took the stand, saying his pride kept him for seeking help with his addiction to painkillers following severe lower back pain.

“I am absolutely sorry that all of this happened,” Headley said from the stand while his wife Melissa and two sons sat in the audience. “I have said to my family numerous times there is no way I would have jeopardized the life I had if something didn’t have hold on me that was out of my control.

“I just wish I had laid my pride to the side and gone to someone and said I had a problem and needed help,” Headley said. “If the citizens could know one thing from Ricky Headley, I would just hope they would please understand that addiction is extremely more powerful than an individual.”

He told Deputy Attorney General Derek Smith on more than one occasion in questioning that he did not recall specific incidents and that he was surprised by what he read in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report following his arrest.

“What I would agree is that I was certainly addicted to those pain pills,” Headley said. “I can’t answer what did or did not take place. The things I read in the TBI report, I can’t dispute but I can’t recall.

“When you are in the middle of it, you don’t know everything is a blur,” Headley said. “When you detox and then look back, you see everything is a blur.”

Headley said he met pharmacist Glenn Brooks in 2005 as he was preparing for a reelection campaign. He was still in pain from 2003 and on painkillers prescribed by a Dr. Winston Griner of Franklin Medical Clinic.

“As I began taking pain pills, I noticed in a short time that I was taking more than I should be taking,” Headley said. “The more I tried to control it, the worse it got.”

Headley said he would call Brooks and he would advance him pills toward his next prescription, but eventually that pretense was abandoned.

Under cross examination by Smith, Headley admitted he could not recall how many pills he got from Brooks.

“I don’t know how many times I went into that drugstore without a prescription,” Headley said. He had said earlier that he and his wife had discussions about trying to deal with his addiction, but he always went back to Brooks and did not seek help.

“Part of it was my position,” Headley said. “I just felt like I couldn’t go to programs where I knew people. I felt like it was something I couldn’t reveal to people I knew.”

Local Realtor Brent Sanders and longtime businessman and resident Bobby Bennett testified for Headley and both said they were surprised at his arrest.

“He hid it well,” Bennett said. “It was a shock to me.”

Headley testified he is working for a friend who owns a marketing firm and continuing to pursue his music career.

Headley was arrested on Jan. 31, 2007, as part of an investigation of Brooks Pharmacy on Trousdale Lane in Nashville. Headley was charged with more than 30 felony counts relating to prescription drug fraud in that case. Last fall, Headley was indicted by a Williamson County Grand Jury on four charges of official misconduct since he was wearing his uniform and driving his county-issued vehicle during visits to the pharmacy.

Posted on: 3/24/2008


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