SEVIERVILLE — Two deputy clerks at the Sevier County Clerk’s office accused of taking cash to clean documents on stolen cars entered not guilty pleas to the charges when appearing in federal court this week.
Roberta Lynn Webb-Allen, 55, was also booked into the Sevier County Jail on Thursday for state charges of official misconduct, tampering with or fabricating evidence, and forgery. She was released on Thursday.
Webb-Allen is the wife of Sevier County Commissioner Ronnie W. Allen, who represents the 7th District, which is the Sevierville area.
A release from the U.S. Attorney’s office detailing the federal indictment of the deputy clerks provided information about Webb-Allen’s appearance in federal court and not guilty plea. Her co-defendant Brandy M. Thornton appeared in court for in-person arraignment Friday afternoon and entered a not guilty plea as well. Thornton was not among those listed in arrests at the Sevier County Jail on Friday.
Webb-Allen and Thornton were charged in federal documents Thursday with interference with commerce. They are accused of taking cash and food payments to provide clean documentation on stolen cars in an interstate scheme, court documents say.
The indictments indicate they were charged as part of an investigation that started last week, when federal authorities filed drug trafficking charges against multiple Sevier County residents.
The indictments allege Webb-Allen and Thornton took cash and food payments from Juan Lopez Gallardo and James C. Hickman, two of the people charged last week in a drug round-up.
Gallardo and Marco Antonio Cardenas were among the six people arrested last week as part of the roundup.
New indictments in federal court indicate investigators have also learned they were stealing cars, and getting new, fake documentation on them in East Tennessee.
“During the charged conspiracy period defendants Juan Lopez Gallardo and Marco Antonio Cardenas created and obtained false title and registration documentation for the stolen vehicles,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Quencer wrote.
“During the charged conspiracy period defendants (Gallardo and Cardenas) titled and registered the stolen vehicles with the state of Tennessee, in the Eastern District, using false title and registration documentation to register the stolen vehicles.”
In a previous statement Clerk Karen Cotter said her office was working with investigators on the case.
“The Sevier County Clerk’s office is cooperating fully with the FBI. It is my understanding that no public funds were misused,” she said.
Webb-Allen and Thornton are no longer employees of Sevier County government.