Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Michael Hooks Jr. Gets 30 Days in Jail

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Michael Hooks Jr. was sentenced to 30 days in prison and four months home confinement Wednesday for a minor crime committed in 2001 that helped set in motion the federal government's Operation Tennessee Waltz two years later.

Hooks, a former member of the Memphis City Schools Board of Education, told U.S. District Judge Daniel Breen, "I have no one to blame but myself."

He said he has "endured the punishment of the negative news that has been spread all over the country" because of his famous name and the link to Tennessee Waltz. Hooks is the son of former Shelby County Commissioner Michael Hooks Sr., who is serving a 26-month prison sentence for bribery.

Benjamin Hooks, the former head of the NAACP and uncle of Michael Hooks Sr., was in the courtroom Wednesday but did not speak. Defense attorney Glen Reid decided not to ask any of the Hooks family or supporters in court to testify as character witnesses.

Reid said Hooks Jr., took part in a scheme "hatched by others" in and around the Shelby County Juvenile Court Clerk's office in 2001. Hooks submitted false invoices that netted him less than $5,000. Reid said the crime had nothing to do with Hooks' position as a public official and should not be considered part of Tennessee Waltz. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza said "this was a case of political corruption" because Hooks, Tim Willis, and Darrell Catron defrauded a public office.

Willis later became the central figure and key undercover witness in Tennessee Waltz after the Juvenile Court investigation expanded to bribery and extortion in state government in Nashville.

Hooks said he has earned a masters degree in business, become a father, and is mentoring young men.

"Our young people need to hear from people who have made mistakes," he said.

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