University School teacher free on bond after February theft charge, also on paid leave

Becky Campbell • May 7, 2019 at 7:00 PM

A University School history teacher who had a misdemeanor theft citation in November may have lost an opportunity to keep a clear criminal background after she was arrested in February on another theft charge.

Jessica Faye Lee, 37, who goes by Jessica Bragg as her professional name, remains on paid administrative leave since the Feb. 15 arrest, accused of stealing jewelry from the Belk store at The Mall at Johnson City. Lee, who lives at 606 Swadley Road, Apt. 54, had apparently not informed the school about the December incident.

“We became aware of the December incident after she was placed on administrative leave,” East Tennessee State University spokesman Joe Smith said on Tuesday. He also confirmed that Jessica Lee and Jessica Bragg are the same person.

According to documents from Washington County General Sessions court, the first incident occurred at Food City on South Roan Street. Lee was stopped by a loss prevention officer after he said he saw her conceal items in her backpack and attempt to leave the store. The loss prevention employee stopped Lee in the store lobby and called police.

According to a misdemeanor citation issued by Johnson City Police Officer Noemi Juarez, Lee was accused of taking $20.78 in merchandise without paying.

On Dec. 20, Lee signed an agreement worked out between her attorney, Patrick Denton, and state prosecutors that the charge would be dismissed in June 2019 on four conditions:

• no contact with Food City;

• pay court costs;

• complete 50 hours of community service at a non-profit agency; and

• not commit any other crimes.

The case was continued until June 20, at which time the charge would be dismissed, and there was already a TBI certificate on file that would have allowed her to have the charge expunged from her record.

In the second incident, Lee, aka Bragg, was charged with theft over $1,000, which is a class D felony that carries no less than two to four years in jail for a Range 1 offender.

Johnson City Police Officer Sarah Proffitt responded to Belk at the mall Feb. 15 around 6 p.m. A loss prevention officer there had detained Lee because he said he saw her removing tags from at least 17 pieces of jewelry and putting the jewelry in her bag.

The loss prevention officer stopped Lee as she tried to leave the store. After Proffitt arrived, some additional pieces of jewelry were found in Lee’s purse, according to the court documents.

Lee is free on a $1,000 bond on the felony theft charge, and her court date in Sessions Court is June 20 on both cases.

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