MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Former Millington Mayor Richard Hodges has plenty of things to say about his ongoing legal troubles. Hodges was arraigned Thursday morning for bribery.
He was charged after a 10-month investigation by the TBI. They claim Hodges was gambling, and offering money and city services to people to repay losses.
Roughly two years ago, Richard Hodges was getting credit for his handling of big floods in Millington. He even went to Washington and talked with Federal Emergency Management Agency brass about it.
Now, he's dealing with the suicide of his wife and charges of bribery. Things have changed a lot in two years.
It's a long way from the Millington mayor's office in city hall to the Criminal Justice Center in downtown Memphis. Sure it's only twenty minutes by car, but it's a long way for former mayor Richard Hodges.
He already had two counts of bribery against him, and this week a grand jury found enough to charge him with another one. March 8 was his first court appearance on the new charge.
Despite this, Hodges says he's doing fine. He's not nervous about the charges against him, "not when you're innocent," he says.
Richard Hodges looks you right in the eye when he says he's innocent. He was always known as somebody who was direct, who didn't waste a lot of time on small talk.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, he was also a guy who liked to play some poker. The TBI investigated and did wire tapping. They claim Hodges owed Transmission Shop owner Marlin Roberts money after playing cards.
A taped conversation by investigators accuses Hodges of offering Roberts city services, even a police badge, if he'd forget about money owed. Richard Hodges has said since day one he didn't do anything wrong.
Bribery charges against an elected official are serious allegations. Hodges could get thirty years behind bars if convicted.
"You know I ain't got no comment," he said after his initial arrest last summer. "But real soon, I will have comments."
While he waited in court, Hodges talked to people. He is proud of how Navy Road looks these days; when he was mayor, Hodges ordered the city to fix up its main drag and to even plant flowers.
Then the judge came in, he stood, his lawyer did some legal talking, and Richard Hodges was told to come back to court on April 16. There was no more talk about Navy Road and the flowers.
Hodges retired as mayor earlier this year. He'll be spending a lot of his retirement time reading court documents and evidence prosecutors have and want to use against him.
Hodges' lawyer, Tommy Partner, works hard at making sure the former mayor doesn't say anything. That's not easy, because Richard Hodges says he's got nothing to be worried about.
"We're going to get some discovery, hopefully next week, and then we'll be able to figure this thing out and look forward to telling you a whole lot more later," Partner said.