Parsons was charged with obstruction of justice. That charge stems from a routine traffic stop at 11 p.m. on Dec. 22, in which officers said Parsons refused to divulge the identity of the passenger in his car. Deputies suspected the passenger was Parsons’ brother-in-law, Kenneth B. Cornett, who had outstanding arrest warrants in the county.
Parsons bond was set at $2,500. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Johnson County Sessions Court on March 20. Parsons said he is innocent and will be vindicated in court.
Mountain City Recorder Sheila Shaw said Parsons may continue to serve as mayor while the case is being resolved in court. Parsons has served as mayor since being elected in November 2016. He previously served as an alderman for Mountain City. He is a businessman.
The obstruction of justice charge came after officers reported seeing a black sedan going westbound on Tenn. Highway 67 at a speed of 67 mph in a 45 mph speed zone. A traffic stop was executed at Bethany Baptist Church.
As officers approached the car, they recognized the mayor. Sgt. Josh Peters explained to the mayor that he had been stopped for speeding. Peters reported that the mayor told him his speedometer was broken. Peters said he then asked Parsons who was with him.
Peters said Parsons told him the man was a friend and tried to change the subject. Peters reported that he asked Parsons if his friend had a name, but Parsons again replied by calling him a friend.
Peters reported that “I had prior knowledge that Mr. Parsons’ brother-in-law had an active warrant out of Johnson County and was seen in that same vehicle.”
Peters said he had previously stopped the mayor and explained to him that his brother-in-law was wanted. Peters said that during that earlier stop the mayor had told him he knew about the warrant and that he had told his brother-in-law to turn himself in.
After talking to the mayor, Peters turned to the passenger and asked for an ID. He said the man told him he did not have an ID. Peters then asked for the man’s name, but got no response.
Peters said Parsons then asked if his passenger had to give his name and why was he being detained. Peters asked Parsons if he would give the name and reported that Parsons told him “I’d prefer not to, just for the simple fact I don’t have to.”
Sheriff Edward Tester then arrived on the scene. Peters said Tester asked Parsons “is this your brother-in-law, we need to know?” Peters said Parsons responded “I don’t know.” Peters then said “You don’t know your brother-in-law?” He said Parsons then said “It’s my brother-in-law, yes.”
Peters then took the passenger from the car and confirmed he was Cornett and he did have outstanding warrants. Cornett was then taken into custody.