Charme Allen

 

Charme Allen is not shy about defending her tenure as district attorney general for Knox County. She offers no apologies.

Did Mike Lowe get a soft sentence?

Did Allison Beaver Burchett escape punishment?

Does the DA’s office go light on prominent miscreants?

No, no and no, says Allen.

“At the end of the day, you do what’s right, get the most you can and sleep at night.”

Actually, we learned some new stuff in the hour we spent with Allen.

Mike Lowe mug shot

Mike Lowe, former county trustee, served less than a year at the county detention facility after pleading guilty in 2015 to two counts of felony theft of some $200,000 while in office. It looked for a while that Lowe would skate on repaying the money, but the DA’s office hung tough and last July, Lowe agreed to pay $1,850 a month.

Allen had a printout from the Criminal Court clerk’s office that showed Lowe has been paying ahead. He’s already made 24 payments – some $44,400 – and he’s got over seven years’ probation remaining.

Allison Burchett mug shot

Allison Burchett got four years’ probation – no jail time – on what started as a six-count felony indictment with six misdemeanors. Allen called hers a “poster case” for diversion – no prior convictions, gainfully employed, no conduct that puts the public at risk, such as DUI.

Burchett committed some nasty cyber stalking of her boyfriend’s wife, and the victim shared unhappiness with the outcome.

Burchett was soon on social media, comparing herself to Harry Truman, the underdog who prevailed against Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential election. An anonymous defender on Knoxviews.com posted: “The point Allison is making is that it’s possible for the press to get the winners and losers wrong before the final votes are counted. In this case, Dewey works in the 6th floor of 400 Main St. (a reference to Allison’s ex-husband, Tim Burchett).”

Charme Allen shrugged when shown the printout.

There was no way Allison was going to jail, she said, even if a jury convicted her on all charges. The D felonies each carry a sentence of 2-4 years, while the misdemeanors carry a maximum 11 months, 29 days. Allen said after a conviction, the jury goes home and the lawyers argue sentencing – the DA citing “enhancers,” while the defense cites mitigating factors.

In the Burchett case, “we had no enhancers,” said Allen. “Allison was eligible for diversion.” Could she have asked for consecutive sentences upon conviction? That’s called “stacking,” said Allen, and the Tennessee Code spells out conditions there too. “The law tells us what we can do and we didn’t have any stackers.”

But Allison Burchett is on four years supervised probation, she’s given her probation officer access to her online accounts, and she’s got six admissions of dishonest acts on her record forever.

A reasonable person can argue that white collar criminals get better treatment under the law, but that’s an issue for legislators. And their aim is to protect the public by removing those most likely to cause harm. Would you rather confront someone who hired ghost employees or someone guilty of DUI or assault?

A reasonable person cannot argue that Charme Allen is soft on crime or intimidated by defense counsel. The Georgia native moved here to attend UT law school. She’s worked in a man’s world, prosecuting domestic abuse cases. And when Randy Nichols retired, she ran for office and won the election – the first woman ever to be Knox County’s DA.

“At the end of the day, you do what’s right, get the most you can and sleep at night.”

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Written by Sandra Clark
editor/CEO Powell community coordinator sclark426@aol.com 865-661-8777