JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — New First Judicial District Attorney Steve Finney said his office hasn’t received any information about potential police corruption and won’t ask for a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) probe into the Johnson City Police Department (JCPD) — at least at this point.
Finney’s office hand-delivered a letter to City Manager Cathy Ball on Sept. 1, the day of his swearing-in, responding to Ball and JCPD Chief Karl Turner’s Aug. 24 request that the DA or TBI preliminarily investigate specific allegations mentioned in a federal lawsuit against the city and Turner.
“I am the only person that can request a TBI investigation,” Finney wrote. “There is no mechanism for a ‘preliminary investigation.'”
The city’s letter to the DA stems from paragraph 98 of former federal prosecutor Kateri “Kat” Dahl’s June 23 lawsuit. It references a “Jane Doe 8” — an alleged rape victim of the man known as “Robert Voe,” who is central to the lawsuit. It says Jane Doe 8 and other witnesses Dahl spoke with claimed “Voe” got away with criminal behavior “by paying Johnson City Police officers off.”
Dahl’s suit claims her work agreement was not renewed in retaliation after she pressed JCPD leaders to ramp up an investigation of “Voe” due to widespread suspicion the then-downtown business owner was a serial rapist and drug dealer. “Voe,” whose name News Channel 11 has chosen not to use as it is redacted in the lawsuit, has been at large since JCPD unsuccessfully attempted to serve a federal warrant on him May 5, 2021.
The city filed a response to the lawsuit on Aug. 23, in which its attorneys disparaged Dahl’s claims of potential corruption — calling them “no evidence whatsoever.” That section of the response also mentioned that “presumably” Dahl had “reported her alleged ‘evidence’ of corruption” to the DA or TBI and said if she hadn’t “then Johnson City and Chief Turner demand that she do so immediately.”
The response mentioned the letter Ball and Turner were sending the DA, which it said would request the DA interview Dahl and “Jane Doe 8.”
Judging from his response, Finney didn’t appear to feel as much sense of urgency as the city’s attorneys, despite having what he called “no knowledge of any information being reported to my office” by Dahl.
“I do not have enough information to request a TBI investigation at this point,” Finney wrote.
“If Ms. Dahl and her attorneys wish to meet with me and my investigators about paragraph 98 (the referenced section of Dahl’s suit), I would gladly do so,” his letter continued. “At that point, then I would decide whether to move forward with a TBI investigation.”
Finney sent a copy of his letter to Dahl’s attorneys, Hugh Eastwood and Alexis Tahinci.