Friday, January 11, 2008

This Marks The End

With little or no fanfare or media coverage at all, the Hooks family dynasty came to an abrupt end yesterday. Just last year, him and both his parents held positions of public trust. Now he's awaiting sentencing for one of his petty crimes. He has a knack for getting involved in shady deals. Him and his father both have a propensity for illegal activity. Remember the Rolex scandal? Some might say what dynasty am I referring to? But believe me, locally there was one. Ben Hooks still has an enormous amount of influence even today. Just last month he was given a "Presidential Medal of Honor." In the midst of the famed Ford family the Hooks sometimes get overlooked. In a region where politicians are held accountable for their actions, this would be a wrap. In the city of Memphis stranger things have happened though. I don't think it will in this case. Michael Hooks Jr. never came across to me as a fireball politician. He just happened to be the recipient of blessings placed on the family. I don't see any other Hooks on the horizon. So more than likely, this marks the end.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you might be right.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Common said...

Tennessee Waltz: Hooks Jr. gets 30-day term
Fraud at Juvenile Court was the first whiff of corruption
By Lawrence Buser (Contact)
Thursday, April 10, 2008

Michael Hooks Jr., whose family name has long been synonymous with civil rights and local politics, was sentenced to 30 days in federal prison Wednesday for his role in a bogus-invoice scam in 2001 in the Juvenile Court Clerk's Office.

The former Memphis school board member was charged in a small-scale fraud case involving $3,000 or less, but it led to the wide-ranging public corruption investigation dubbed Tennessee Waltz that resulted in nearly a dozen elected officials and aides going to prison.

Michael Hooks Jr. leaves the federal building Downtown after being sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in federal prison for his involvement in a bogus-invoice scheme that produced the beginnings of the Tennessee Waltz corruption investigation.

Among those convicted was Hooks' father, Michael Hooks Sr., a former Shelby County commissioner who is serving a 26-month prison sentence for accepting $24,200 in bribes from undercover agents posing as crooked businessmen.

The younger Hooks, 33, pleaded guilty in January to accepting $1,500 in fees for consulting work at Juvenile Court for work he did not do. Federal prosecutors said they could prove that amount, though Hooks admitted the figure was closer to $3,000. He said he also received some money for legitimate work he did.

"I accept full responsibility for my actions and have no one to blame but myself," Hooks told U.S. Dist. Court Judge J. Daniel Breen. "My family needs me and my community needs me."

Through his attorney, Hooks asked the judge for probation, while federal prosecutor Tim DiScenza recommended a sentence within the advisory guideline range of zero to six months in prison.

Breen also ordered Hooks to serve four months of home confinement upon his release from prison.

In about six weeks, the federal Bureau of Prisons will notify Hooks when and where to report.

"We accept the sentence imposed by the court and Michael's ready to move forward," his attorney, Glen Reid, said after the 20-minute hearing.

Reid told the judge that while his client accepted some money for work he did not do, Hooks Jr. also was paid for some legitimate consulting work and was not aware of the political deal-making that was going on around him.

Prosecutors have said that political operative Tim Willis, a key witness in the Tennessee Waltz investigation, was paid more than $60,000 in 2001 from invoices he submitted to the court clerk's office and that some of it was distributed to a number of others besides Hooks Jr.

DiScenza told the court earlier that there was "an understanding" that Hooks Sr. would cast his commissioner's vote for fellow Commissioner Shep Wilbun to become Juvenile Court clerk in exchange for his son being given a job in the clerk's office.

The plan was deemed "politically unwise," prosecutors said, so the consulting work and bogus-invoice scheme was created by Willis and others.

Wilbun, who lost the clerk's job in the 2002 election, was not charged with a crime and knew nothing of the scheme, his attorney has said.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ex-inmate Michael Hooks Jr. gets county job
Former official will recruit prisoners to join program
By Alex Doniach (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fresh out of federal prison after serving 30 days on a fraud conviction, Michael Hooks Jr. has landed a new job with Shelby County government.

Hooks, whose fake-invoice scandal with the Juvenile Court Clerk's Office spawned the Tennessee Waltz investigation, was hired July 16 by the Shelby County Division of Corrections as a part-time recruiter for a federally funded prisoner re-entry program, county officials confirmed Tuesday.

The Responsible Fatherhood Grants, two five-year federal grants totaling $985,000 annually, fund education, skills and support to help inmates restore relationships with their families. The program is part of the county's larger re-entry project dubbed "3-R," designed to reduce recidivism rates among inmates.

Hooks, 33, will be paid $16.41 an hour -- all of which is funded by the grant -- as a part-time recruiter for the program, meaning his job will be to solicit inmates to join.

Although the former school board member was released in June from the Federal Correctional Institution in Yazoo City, Miss., he was never a participant in the program.

Instead, he found out about the job and applied, said Bobby White, executive assistant to county Mayor A C Wharton.

Andrew Taber, director of the Shelby County Division of Corrections, said in a statement that Hooks was highly qualified to act as a recruiter for the program.

"(He is) one of several individuals with past criminal offenses currently hired as staff members with the larger re-entry program," Taber said. "It resonates for these incarcerated men to be assisted by staff members who understand intimately the challenges before them."

Wharton said in a statement that the county's re-entry mission extends to its employees.

"The overall re-entry program is about giving individuals another shot to make good," Wharton said. "That's not only something we've adopted for the mission of this initiative, but even relative to the program's hiring practices."

Hooks was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty in January to accepting $1,500 in fees in 2001 for consulting work at Juvenile Court he did not do.

Although Hooks' conviction involved a small-scale fraud, his indictment spawned the broad public corruption investigation called The Tennessee Waltz, which led to convictions of a dozen elected officials and aides.

Hooks' father, former county commissioner Michael Hooks, was also convicted in the investigation and is serving a 26-month prison sentence for accepting $24,200 in bribes from undercover agents posing as businessmen.

Hooks Jr. was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

-- Alex Doniach: 529-5231

Posted by tiger4life on July 23, 2008 at 12:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Andrew Taber said in a statement " Hooks was highly qualified to work as a recruiter for the program ", toooooo real :-)..........

Posted by Dr_D2 on July 23, 2008 at 12:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Unbelievable!!! Politics at work. Instead of being embarrassed for giving a decent paying job to a fresh criminal, they defends this junk. I know several people without criminal records who deserves this job.

Posted by biteback on July 23, 2008 at 2:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Was all ready to be mad until I saw the program he works with is basically a second chance program for ex-cons. Just like hiring a former addict to work with a AA program.

Also made me think that if people are against him being hired (I'm almost sure he has a masters degree; nearly 85 percent of Tennesseans don't have a college degree), guess how hard it has to be for an ordinary guy with a high school diploma (or GED) and a felon on his record trying to get a job. Wow!!

Posted by bblue on July 23, 2008 at 5:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

sounds about right, someone who really needs a job with no record, a family to support and no history of drugs or alcohol could not have gotten it. way to go shelby county government.
why dont you guys like the mayor of memphis hire all convicted felons on all jobs? unreal!!!

Posted by techjas on July 23, 2008 at 5:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Memphis: City of Shame. Need a job? Do a crime. How can the Hooks family walk out in public without feeling ashamed of themselves? Talk about a crime family . . . So Hooks gets a job because he's a convicted criminal. Well, it would have gone to John Ford but he couldn't make the commute.

Posted by dillinger on July 23, 2008 at 6:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I used to get mad at people who made fun of the South in general and Memphis in particular. I no longer do. In fact, I´m considering robbing a bank. Let´s see. Hooks was sentenced to 30 days and is now getting paid 16.41. If I receive, let´s say, 5 years, I should be entitled to at least something in the amount of 40 to 50 bucks ...

Posted by spamidohate on July 23, 2008 at 6:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

SHAME ON THE COUNTY! All this is - we need to quit rewarding criminals with civil servant jobs.


Posted by engr08 on July 23, 2008 at 6:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Looks like prison time is a job pre-requisite for any position in this county. Nothing surprises me anymore.

Posted by beckyhomecky2 on July 23, 2008 at 6:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

this is hilarious. he gets a recruiting job after serving time for billing for services he never provided. who is going to make sure he does his job this time? can't help but wonder if his dad will head the program once he gets out.

Posted by OldMan on July 23, 2008 at 6:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This pure crap!!!!! Sadly it is also very typical of our local government(s).

Posted by bab57 on July 23, 2008 at 6:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah, they should have refused to hire him. Much better that he be unemployed and not contributing at all....After all, it's not like he served his time or anything. Oh, wait, he did.

Posted by Carlye on July 23, 2008 at 7:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Isn't this the same Hooks that was cooking crack in his house?

Posted by Timeout on July 23, 2008 at 7:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Once again we are in the Twilight Zone. Sure makes for some great comment boards, got the popcorn out!!

Posted by Loookie on July 23, 2008 at 7:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Truth is stanger than fiction...what a shameful joke our government is.

Posted by listener on July 23, 2008 at 7:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I have been applying for jobs at SC gov't for over two years. I have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, two masters degrees, with one being in public administration, no criminal record and I am very good at what I do. This is a bunch of crap. Memphis and Shelby County are a real joke.

Posted by slimshady on July 23, 2008 at 8:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What is his qualifications other then he served time? I mean does he have a college education, a background in counseling or teaching or anything else that actually gives him an edge over a law-abiding applicant? I don't have a problem with giving someone a second chance BUT that means that a conviction should NOT be a consideration.

Posted by lgavin on July 23, 2008 at 8:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Birds of the feather ...

Posted by curlyqlink on July 23, 2008 at 8:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If this was a program that helped convicted felons get jobs in the private sector, I wouldn't have a problem with it. Unfortunately, what we have here is a program that returns the fox to the henhouse.

Posted by robitron on July 23, 2008 at 8:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I knew I was right.....



Posted by Stapler on July 23, 2008 at 8:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Once you have held a job on the taxpayer dollar and committed a crime doing so, you should never be able to work for any sector of government again. Let him get out here with the rest of us peons and live by the rules they impose on the rest of us. Shades of Ricky Peete!! The good ole boy network in Memphis is absolutely criminal the way they take care of each other. They have no fear of anything since even if they get caught they know they will be taken care of by the rest of the criminalks in government once they are released. The corruption is rampant from the top to the bottom and I think it is beyond repair because the Willies will keep getting elected by the good citizens of this cesspool city.

Posted by deltamomof2 on July 23, 2008 at 8:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

He was only locked up 30 days. That does not qualify him to know what challenges these criminals will face. Oh wait, it gives them the idea they will get good jobs when they get out. IMO...I think its just another way to get Hooks back into a position to eventually move back into the government position he previously help...just like his dad. I am a believer in second chances but if what some of these posters are saying, that they have applied for city jobs and not been hired, this reeks big time.

Posted by bab57 on July 23, 2008 at 8:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

that argument only works if they applied for *this* particular job... since it's only part-time, i doubt it.

Posted by MissouriVol on July 23, 2008 at 8:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

People keep using the word "shame." There is no shame in our society anymore. There is always an excuse for what people do, and the excuse is accepted.

Posted by Carlye on July 23, 2008 at 8:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Mornin' Robi.

Posted by Eleutheria on July 23, 2008 at 8:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

WOW! I've been applying for various city and county government jobs for 20 years. I guess three degrees, relevant experience and clean criminal record don't qualify? I will just say WOW! to express my feelings... the adjectives "shame," "despicable," "unreal,"
"Twilight Zone," "pure crap" and "this is wrong" have already been taken by earlier posters.

Posted by shakespearetobe on July 23, 2008 at 8:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't know everyone - who better to recruit thieves than a thief? Surely his "time behind bars" qualifies him to understand the plight of the hardened criminal - the challenges of finding a job, a home, a second chance.

All they have to do is apply.

Posted by Vincesanity10 on July 23, 2008 at 8:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Eluethia &'s all about who you know in this society. I work in Millington on the Navy base and the same thing goes on. With his last name alone...that entitles him to those jobs within the county that over 20 years of school won't qualify you for. Stupid as it sounds, that's what it is.

Posted by belowthelaw on July 23, 2008 at 8:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey, did you guys notice that he will "oversee" and will be "PAID" from a "FEDERAL GRANT"? Mayor Wharton is defending his actions? I guarantee this was planned before he went to prison.

And yes, this is the same guy that was caught cooking crack by law enforcement and was written a a misdemeanor citation instead of being booked on a felony drug charge.

Talk about connections..............

Posted by mtigerdiehard on July 23, 2008 at 9:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I am not going to take time to read comments because it's obvious that this story is more of a concern to posters that the implementation of ID Badges into the city schools. Administrators will also be equipped with scanning devices. That's big.

Michael Hooks Jr. is going to make about 33,000 a year for $16.41 and hour. Do most of you want him to find a new line of work or not work at all? Or are you upset he will be working for a second chance program?

Posted by Dr_D2 on July 23, 2008 at 9:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It was his dad, Michael Hooks Sr. who was cooking crack. Second chances are fine, but it needs to be fair. There is nothing fair on this. The appearance alone begs to differ. I know people who had a misdemeanor crime, went into the military and were rejected for local government jobs after honorable discharges. They care less about second chances when it comes down to the ordinary "no name recognition" citizen.

Posted by slimshady on July 23, 2008 at 9:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I just want to know if he is qualified to do the job. If he is not qualified then yes, let him find a new line of work just like a law-abiding citizen would have to do.

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