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Greeneville Man Enters Plea In Firearms Case

A Greeneville man taken into custody earlier this year by federal authorities after 173 firearms were found in his house accepted a plea agreement in U.S. District Court in advance of a trial scheduled to start next week.

Craig Christopher Love, 45, of 203 Hollow Tree Court, entered into an agreement this week with the government that includes a guilty plea to being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of firearms.

Senior U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer set a sentencing date of March 16, 2020, for Love, who remains free on $20,000 bond.

The punishment for the offense Love pleaded guilty to carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years on supervised release.

A superseding indictment lists the make and type of the firearms seized in February from Love’s house by Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives agents. The list includes 83 handguns, 76 rifles and two pistols.

FACTS OF CASE

The Greeneville Police Department responded early on Feb. 24 to the Hollow Tree Court address for a reported drug overdose. Love was found unconscious on a bathroom floor. Another man was attempting CPR on him, according to a criminal complaint filed by the government.

As Greene County-Greeneville EMS paramedics attended to Love, the other man told them Love had just used heroin, the complaint said.

Love regained consciousness as paramedics prepared to take him to a hospital and confirmed he had “just injected heroin,” the complaint said.

Love’s drug source had advised him to be cautious because the heroin might be laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic narcotic responsible for numerous overdoses nationwide.

In the house, authorities found hundreds of new and used syringes, butane lighters, a burnt spoon and empty prescription pill bottles, along with a small container holding about one gram of a suspected heroin-fentanyl mix, the complaint said.

Officers also saw more than 100 firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition “in plain view,” the complaint said.

On Feb. 26, a federal search warrant was issued by U.S. District Court in Greeneville for Love’s house.

ATF agents seized 173 firearms, about a quarter-gram of a suspected heroin-fentanyl mix and a “large quantity of ammunition,” the complaint said.

Assorted ammunition totaling 1,650 pounds was also seized, along with multiple firearm magazines.

Most of the firearms were manufactured outside Tennessee and “therefore, affected interstate commerce,” it said.

Love, who had a landscaping business in Greeneville, told ATF agents he had used opioid-based substances since July 2018 for back pain from an injury he suffered, the complaint said.

GUNS VALUED AT $500,000

Love told the ATF that he owned the guns found in his house “and estimated there were between 250 and 300 firearms” there worth about $500,000, the complaint said.

Love told agents he also had recently pawned “numerous” other guns.

As part of the plea agreement, Love agreed to assist the government “in the identification, recovery and return to the United States of any other assets” and other property subject to forfeiture, and make a full disclosure of his assets.

Love is represented by Assistant Federal Defender Tim S. Moore. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Gregory Bowman is prosecuting the case.

The plea agreement becomes effective once it is signed by the parties involved.

As part of the plea agreement, Love agrees to forfeit the weapons seized in his home to the Greeneville Police Department “as proceeds of (his) criminal activities.”


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Sliding Through A Warm Fall Afternoon

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Isaiah 117 House Ribbon Cutting Set For Nov. 25

A little more than four months after its groundbreaking ceremony, the Isaiah 117 House is preparing for its ribbon cutting and opening.

The ribbon cutting is set for 10 a.m. Nov. 25 at the Isaiah 117 House, 409 W. Main St., and the public is invited, according to Gwyn Southerland, Isaiah House program coordinator for the Greeneville location.

The Isaiah 117 House has been a site of activity in the past few weeks as construction has been completed and furniture was moved into the house late last week to allow volunteers to continue furnishing the house. Construction was coordinated through a partnership of local contractors, Lynn Pitt Construction, Seaton Contracting and Idell Construction.

There will be a volunteer walk through of the house in the coming weeks to continue their training, as well as a walk through for staff of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Southerland said. The Isaiah 117 House will open Nov. 27.

The Isaiah 117 House will provide a comforting place for children who have been removed from their homes out of concern for their welfare. The children can be brought to the Isaiah House while the Department of Children’s Services finds a placement with a foster home, which can be several hours to a full day.

At the Isaiah 117 House, volunteers will provide the children with clean clothes, toys and blankets while they await placement.

A nonprofit organization, Isaiah 117 was founded in Carter County in 2018 by Ronda Paulson following her own experiences as a foster parent. As of late January, more than 70 children had been helped since the Isaiah 117 House opened in Elizabethton.

After the Isaiah House project was introduced locally, the community responded with donations of more than $120,000 for the construction of the local house. Various organizations continue to make donations or have benefits on behalf of the house to provide supplies and help with operating costs.


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Funds For Dental Area Remodel At Health Department Approved

The Greene County Health Department does not have a full-time dentist on site but is preparing for when it will have one next spring.

The dental care area at the Health Department is being remodeled, and a transfer of $25,000 for the work from the department’s medical personnel account to building improvements gained approval Wednesday from the Greene County Budget & Finance Committee.

Health Department Director Cathy Osborne explained that the dental care area is currently being remodeled and the transfer was needed for some unanticipated work.

When the dental chair and cabinetry was removed, workers discovered the floor underneath needed to be replaced and extra electrical and plumbing work was required, she continued.

In addition, the funds will pay for a mirror and reflective window for the health clinic and repair to an exterior overhang, Osborne said.

The funds for the improvements will come from the line item that provides the salary for the department’s dentist, she explained.

A dentist who is now serving in Johnson County will be transferred to Greene County, Osborne said, but will not be coming until May to be able to provide care for students in the schools there.

During the interim, a dentist from Carter County has been traveling to Greene County at least once a week to provide services at the department, she said.

In other business, the committee gave its approval to a resolution that would authorize the Greeneville-Greene County Emergency Medical Service to donate an ambulance, currently not in service, to the Greene County Chaplain’s Association. The resolution will be considered by the Greene County Commission at its next meeting.

Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison explained that the ambulance to be donated has not been used for 10 years due to its age and condition. “It is just not useful to Greene County any longer,” he said.

The nonprofit Chaplain’s Association needs a vehicle to use as a mobile command post at emergency scenes, Morrison said, and this ambulance can fit that need.

The association will probably have to spend some funds to modify it for their needs to provide services at emergency scenes, the mayor said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, there was brief discussion of the Town of Greeneville’s exploration of establishing its own Emergency Medical Service in its review of shared ventures with Greene County. The review followed the increasing of the county property tax rate for landowners within the town’s corporate limits by 13 cents.

Neither the town nor county provides operating funding to the EMS, which is self-sufficient through insurance payments for its services.

However, committee members expressed concern that if the town does establish its own service, it is likely that neither EMS would be self-sufficient and could require a tax increase by both the town and the county to provide the funds needed for operations.

Another concern voiced was that the operation of two services might cause confusion about whether a call is within the town or the county in those areas around the corporate limits, and seconds needed to figure that out might make a significant difference in a person’s medical condition in an emergency.

The Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen received information during a planning retreat in October about equipment and personnel that would be needed to establish an EMS service by the town. No formal action regarding an EMS service has been taken by the board.