FBI

State and federal agents were in the Sevier County Clerk’s office for much of Thursday morning, and they confirmed they were working on an investigation. The office reopened Thursday afternoon.

SEVIERVILLE — Two deputy clerks in the Sevier County Clerk’s office took cash payments to provide clean documentation on stolen cars in an interstate scheme, according to documents filed Thursday in federal court.

Roberta Lynn Webb Allen and Brandy M. Thornton were charged in federal documents Thursday with interference with commerce.

The news came after the FBI and state agents searched Clerk Karen Cotter’s office much of the morning Thursday.

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.

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.

The indictments indicate 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.

In the meantime, federal prosecutors have filed new charges against those residents arrested last week — charges that indicate they were stealing vehicles and obtaining stolen vehicles, and cleaning up the records on those vehicles in East Tennessee.

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.”

Contact Jeff at jfarrell@themountainpress.com or Twitter at @jeffmtnpress

Contact Jeff at jfarrell@themountainpress.com or Twitter at @jeffmtnpress