Former Washington County, Tenn. assistant DA accused of extortion, soliciting bribe

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GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — A former assistant district attorney is facing extortion and bribery charges, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.

A grand jury has indicted Erin Doughtery McArdle, a former assistant district attorney in Tennessee’s First Judicial District, and Tommy Tylee Henry on charges of conspiracy to commit extortion, extortion under color of official right, and solicitation of a bribe.

According to court documents, McArdle prosecuted criminal cases in Washington County Criminal Court and lived with Henry in Sullivan County.

The indictment accuses the duo of using McArdle’s then-position as a prosecutor to extort individuals being prosecuted in Washington County.

In one case, the indictment says McArdle and Henry accepted $50,000 from someone referred to as “victim 2” to get charges dropped against that person’s father back in 2015. Henry contacted “victim 2” and originally requested $40,000, which the victim paid after meeting with Henry in a parking lot in the Colonial Heights area of Kingsport, according to the indictment. Court records say he later demanded another $10,000 to get the charges dropped.

McArdle and Henry are also accused of attempting to extort money from someone involved in a drug task force investigation in exchange for resolving the investigation in that person’s favor.

According to personnel file documents obtained by News Channel 11 through a public records request, McArdle resigned from her position on April 3, 2020.

This comes just weeks after another assistant district attorney in the First District was also charged with bribery.

News Channel 11 reached out to Washington County District Attorney General Kenneth Baldwin for comment. He responded late Thursday by email, referring any comment to the US Attorney’s Office because the case involves a federal indictment.

The charges against McArdle are unlikely to affect the majority of convictions where she served as prosecutor, according to an attorney with the Second Judicial District who spoke with News Channel 11 on Thursday.

“It’s a sad day for everybody though. This is a ‘nobody wins situation,” said Assistant Public Defender Dustin Franklin.

Franklin said previous convictions with McArdle as prosecutor couldn’t easily be overturned.

“It would have to be a specific allegation of misconduct that affected that particular case,” said Franklin. “A general allegation of a prosecutor doing something wrong in one case really doesn’t affect any other conviction unless there’s evidence of misconduct in that conviction.”

 Franklin didn’t believe the indictment would affect a vast number of past cases.

“The federal government does a good job in their investigations, and so any accusations that they would make, they know those cases,” he said. “And if they had other ones they would probably present that.”

This is a developing story. Look for updates on WJHL.com.

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