Rep. Glen Casada and former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren plead ‘not guilty’ to corruption charges

State Rep. Casada, former aide arrested
State Rep. Casada, former aide arrested
Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 9:04 AM EDT
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FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Justice Department announced that Tennessee State Representative Glen Casada and his former Chief of Staff, Cade Cothren, were indicted on Monday by a federal grand jury and charged in a lengthy investigation involving bribery and kickbacks using federal funds.

63-year-old Casada and 35-year-old Cothren were arrested at their respective homes on Tuesday morning by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) and appeared in court, where they both entered ‘not guilty’ pleas before the Magistrate Judge Alistair Newbern.

After their court appearance, both men avoided reporter questions and got into separate cars. On his way out, the only comment Cothren made to reporters was, “the truth will come out.”

Both Casada and Cothren face multiple charges, including theft from programs receiving federal funds, bribery and kickbacks involving programs receiving federal funds, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Speaker Cameron Sexton comments on Casada and Cothren's indictments and subsequent arrests.

“He plans on defending the charges. We’ve got to let this matter proceed through the judicial process, and Mr. Cothren looks very forward to being vindicated,” says Cindy Sherwood, Cothren’s attorney.

The 20-count indictment was unsealed on Tuesday morning and charges both Casada and Cothren with using fictitious names to execute fraud and eight counts of money laundering.

The indictment states that Casada and Cothren, in concert with another individual, began a fraudulent scheme to obtain state approval of Phoenix Solutions as the official vendor to provide constituent mail services to members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

The other individual is believed to be former state representative Robin Smith who pleaded guilty to wire fraud earlier this year.

The indictment states Casada told members of the General Assembly that Phoenix Solutions was run by an individual named Matthew Phoenix when Cothren actually operated the company, and Matthew Phoenix did not exist.

Casada, Cothren, and the third conspirator hid their involvement with Phoenix Solutions by submitting fraudulent invoices to funnel money from the state to Phoenix Solutions.

In 2020, Phoenix Solutions received nearly $52,000 from the state through the mailer program.

The F.B.I. handled the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda J. Klopf and Trial attorney John P. Taddei of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section prosecuted the case.

Both Casada and Cothren face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Governor Bill Lee’s office provided the following statement: