ELIZABETHTON — Carter County Planning Director Chris Schuettler waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Sessions Court Wednesday morning on a theft over $1,000 charge. Judge John Walton bound the case to a grand jury and instructed Schuettler to report to Criminal Court on Nov. 22.
The charge stems from a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation review of Schuettler’s employee cell phone records, which show calls billed from Lenoir, N.C., and Wilkesboro, N.C., during times when Schuettler’s pay records indicated he was working in the county.
Schuettler’s attorney, Tom Jessee, said he decided to waive the preliminary hearing after the state provided him with documents he had sought. Those documents included the time sheets and telephone call lists on which the state’s charges are based.
“We were seeking those records and when the state provided them, we saw no reason to take up any more of the court’s time,” Jessee said later in the day. “These documents will make our defense a lot simpler.”
In an earlier appearance in August, Jessee and Schuettler had appeared ready to contest the charges in a preliminary hearing. They came to the court with large maps, charts easels and other documents. The case was continued to November because of the large number of cases on the docket on that August day.
When he was first charged, Schuettler had said the case was “nothing more than another attack on me personally and professionally” by Mayor Leon Humphrey.
Humphrey said he was not out to get Schuettler but emphasized “public monies are to be handled with trust. It doesn’t matter who you are. This seems to be a serious charge.”
In an unrelated matter on the Sessions Court docket on Wednesday, Walton dismissed a second charge against Schuettler of allowing his animals to run at large. He said the case could be brought back as a civil case.