Elizabethton businessman faces multiple charges

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   George W. Gwinn Jr., owner of the now-closed Goodwill Motors and Precision Collision Repair, 420 Railroad St., which was destroyed by fire Tuesday afternoon, was arrested Thursday by officers of Johnson City Police Bureau on theft, forgery and wiretapping charges.
   Gwinn, 1726 Sylvan Hill Road, also was indicted in a presentment handed down Sept. 5, 2001, by a Carter County Grand Jury charging him with four counts of forgery, four counts of criminal simulation, and hindering a secured creditor following investigation by Agent Shannon Morton of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Capt. Mike Peters of Elizabethton Police Department Criminal Investigation Division.
   According to a press release prepared by Johnson City Police Investigator Kevin Peters, Gwinn is charged with the theft of checks from TransContinental Title Co., which were cashed without its consent. He was arrested and charged with two counts of theft over $60,000, three counts of theft over $10,000, one count of forgery over $60,000, three counts of forgery over $10,000 and wiretapping.
   The wiretapping charge stems from an electronic listening device being placed in the TransContinental office to overhear conversations concerning investigation into theft of the checks. Gwinn was booked into Washington County Detention Center and released Friday on $150,000 bond. A hearing has been set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Washington County General Sessions Court.
   According to the Carter County indictments, Gwinn was charged with forging a notice to discharge lien at Northeast Community Credit Union "so that it purports to be the act of Ann Morgan, who did not authorize that act"; three counts of forging with the intent to defraud First Bank and Trust by "altering, making, completing or authenticating a loan application so that it purports to be the act of Jay Stewart, who did not authorize that act"; forging with the intent to defraud Northeast Community Credit Union by "altering, making, completing or authenticating a loan application so that it purports to be the act of Martin Meredith, who did not authorize that act"; making or altering a notice to discharge lien; making or altering an assignment of title; making or altering an affidavit for duplicate certificate of title; making or altering an application for certificate of title; and hindering a secured creditor (Northeast Community Credit Union).
   Gwinn was booked into Carter County Jail and released on $12,000 bond. He waived a court appearance Nov. 8 for reading of the presentment.
   Both Criminal Court Judge Lynn Brown and Judge Robert Cupp recused themselves from the case, and Judge Phyllis Miller of the 2nd Judicial District was appointed.
   The District Attorney's Office for the 1st Judicial District, where Gwinn's wife, Melanie, is an assistant district attorney, also recused itself from the case, citing a conflict of interest. Mike Flynn of Maryville was appointed District Attorney General Pro Tem and will prosecute the case.