Anderson County Public Works Director David Crowley was acquitted Thursday by a jury on five counts of inspecting buildings between October and December of 2013 without the proper state certification.
Crowley had been indicted on the misdemeanor charges in October of 2014 following an investigation started after Law Director Jay Yeager brought the issue to the attention of the County Commission and the DA’s office. The indictment accused Crowley of inspecting buildings after a one-year grace period for inspectors to become certified had expired.
During the two-day trial, testimony and evidence focused on two primary questions: first, when did the grace period begin? Specifically, was it when he was appointed to the post on an interim basis by then-newly-elected County Mayor Terry Frank in September of 2012, November of that year when the appointment was made permanent, or in February of 2013, when Crowley inspected his first property? Defense attorney Hugh Ward successfully argued that the grace period began with Crowley’s first inspection in 2013.
The second question focused on whether the allegedly unlicensed inspections presented safety hazards. The jury was told that all five of the properties in question had been re-inspected following the indictment and that all were found to be in compliance with codes and that the inspections had been conducted properly.
The seven-man, five-woman jury deliberated for about an hour and 45 minutes before rendering its verdict.
With Thursday’s acquittal, Crowley can seek to have the charges against him in the indictment expunged from his record.
While this criminal case has been wrapped up, there is still a federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination on the part of former Public Works employee Lisa Crumpley, who alleges she was fired the day the indictment was returned for cooperating with the investigation that led to the charges against Crowley. Her personnel file disappeared soon after, causing an uproar in the Courthouse in multiple departments. That lawsuit was delayed by a judge pending the conclusion of the criminal case.
Shortly after the jury’s verdict came in, Mayor Frank issued the following statement:
“I have always believed when the good people of Anderson County were able to hear testimony under oath and in the light of day, that truth would win out. I am extremely happy for David, his family and friends, and his wonderful attorney Hugh Ward. I am so thankful for a judicial process in this great nation that allows people of all walks of life to have evidence reviewed by a jury of our peers.”