From The Department of Justice
NASHVILLE –Tennessee State Representative Glen Casada, 63, of Franklin, Tennessee, and his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, 35, of Nashville, were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday and charged with conspiracy to commit the following offenses: theft from programs receiving federal funds; bribery and kickbacks concerning programs receiving federal funds; honest services wire fraud; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Both were arrested at their homes this morning by FBI agents and will make initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge later today.
The announcement was made by Mark H. Wildasin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
The 20-count indictment, unsealed this morning, also charges Casada and Cothren with using a fictitious name to carry out a fraud; theft concerning programs receiving federal funds; eight counts of money laundering; six counts of honest services wire fraud; and two counts of bribery and kickbacks.
According to the indictment, beginning in and around October 2019, Casada, while representing Tennessee House District 63, Cothren, and another conspirator, also a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, engaged in a fraudulent scheme to enrich themselves by exploiting Casada and the other conspirator’s official positions as legislators to obtain State approval of Phoenix Solutions as a Mailer Program vendor to provide constituent mail services to members of the Tennessee General Assembly. Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator further sought to obtain State funds for Phoenix Solutions, Casada’s political consulting business, and a political consulting business owned by the other conspirator. It was further part of the conspiracy for Casada and the other conspirator to enrich themselves by obtaining bribes and kickbacks from Cothren, in exchange for securing the approval of Phoenix Solutions as a mailer program vendor.
The indictment alleges that Casada and the other conspirator told members of the Tennessee General Assembly that Phoenix Solutions was run by an individual named “Matthew Phoenix,” an experienced political consultant who had previously worked for a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. In fact, Cothren operated Phoenix Solutions, and Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator knew that “Matthew Phoenix” was a fictitious person and secretly profited from the fraudulent venture. Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator concealed their involvement in Phoenix Solutions by submitting sham invoices to the State of Tennessee in the names of political consulting companies owned by Casada and the other conspirator, for the purpose of secretly funneling money from the State to Phoenix Solutions through the bank accounts of these companies. In 2020, these companies and Phoenix solutions received approximately $51,947 from the State in payments associated with the mailer program.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation in which the United States seeks to recover all proceeds of the crimes, including a money judgement representing the value of the proceeds traceable to any offense of conviction.
If convicted, Casada and Cothren each face up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda J. Klopf and Trial attorney John P. Taddei of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.