Fred Thompson Vs. The Moonshiners 

In what it's billing as "Defining Moments: A series of articles on events that shaped the presidential candidates", The Los Angeles Times took a look at former senator Fred Thompson's career as a Tennessee assistant prosecutor.

An excerpt: The case appeared to be open and shut.

The county sheriff had been caught selling an illegal whiskey still from the back of the county jail. The buyers were a federal informant and an undercover federal investigator. The sheriff, to elude honest police, had even escorted the illegal still out of town.

But for Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Thompson, few cases would prove easy.

Today, as a Republican candidate for president, Thompson is cultivating an image as a tough prosecutor who, like the character he played on TV's "Law & Order," battled powerful criminals during his three-year stint as a prosecutor.

He was "attacking crime and public corruption," boasts a video played at his campaign events. During a candidate debate this month, Thompson said he spent those years "prosecuting most of the major federal crimes in middle Tennessee -- most of the major ones."

But a review of the 88 criminal cases Thompson handled at the U.S. attorney's office in Nashville, from 1969 to 1972, reveals a different and more human portrait -- that of a young lawyer learning the ropes on routine cases involving gambling, mail theft and, in one instance, talking dirty on CB radio ...

Read it all here.

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