Mountain City man charged with perjury in Carter Co.

John Thompson • Feb 14, 2012 at 2:15 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A man who was seeking a court-appointed attorney to defend him in Criminal Court on a charge of driving on a suspended license is facing a new charge of perjury after he failed to include the fact he owns a car on an affidavit of indigency he filed on Friday.

Joseph Paul Ballard, 38, 191 Stage Road, Mountain City, made his initial appearance in Criminal Court on Friday. As part of the proceedings, Ballard completed a form which required him to list his assets. The form begins with a sentence which reads: “Comes the defendant and, subject to the penalty of perjury, makes oath to the following acts (please list, circle, complete etc.).”

Capt. Mike Merritt of the Elizabethton Police Department said when Ballard reached the paragraph reading “all vehicles/vessels owned by me, solely or jointly, within the last six months (including but not limited to cars, truck, motorcycles, farm equipment, boats, etc.)” Ballard failed to list a vehicle he owned.

The omission was suspicious because Ballard was in court on a driving on a suspended license charge. He had reportedly been stopped on Gap Creek Road on June 4, 2009, by Officer Douglas Combs. One of the charges Combs placed on Ballard was driving on a suspended license. Ballard was driving a maroon 1999 Toyota Camry at the time.

The case had languished in Sessions Court until finally Judge John Walton bound it to a Carter County grand jury on Dec. 30, 2011. The grand jury returned a true bill.

Court officers said Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp looked at the affidavit of indigency submitted by Ballard on Friday and told a bailiff to go into the parking lot and see if Ballard left in a vehicle.

The bailiff reported back to the judge that Ballard got into a maroon 1999 Toyota Camry and drove off. The bailiff got the license number and it came back registered to Ballard.

On Monday, Merritt interviewed Ballard at the Criminal Investigations Division. He said Ballard admitted he owned the Toyota Camry and failed to report it as an asset on the court affidavit.

Merritt said Ballard also admitted he failed to report that he received $445 in food stamp benefits for him, his girlfriend and her two children in Mountain City.

Ballard is scheduled to answer the perjury charge in Sessions Court on March 19. His Criminal Court case was continued to April 9.

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