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Rhea Co Commission Chairman fills county executive seat following Thacker's guilty plea

Rhea County Commissioner Jim Vincent. WTVC file photo
Rhea County Commissioner Jim Vincent. WTVC file photo
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UPDATE (April 22nd):

After a guilty plea in Federal Court Thursday, former Rhea County Executive George Thacker turned in his resignation, according to County Commission Chairman Jim Vincent.

Vincent says he was sworn in as the new county executive.

Vincent says he has turned in his petition to run in the August 4th general election for county executive.

EARLIER (April 21st):

Rhea County Executive George Thacker pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in federal court in Chattanooga Thursday afternoon.

After his plea, the judge set a date for his sentencing on September 22nd. Thacker could face a maximum 20-year prison sentence, $250,000 in fines, and supervised release for 3 years.

Thacker lined his pockets with loans under the CARES Act and using them to invest in cryptocurrency, according to court documents.

The CARES Act was a federal law enacted in March of 2020 designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who were suffering from the economic effects of COVID-19.

One source of relief under the act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and other expenses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loans).

The CARES Act also authorized the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) of up to $2 million to eligible small businesses experiencing financial disruptions due to COVID, according to the documents.

Thacker applied for three separate PPP and EIDL loans:

  • A PPP loan of $257,800 on May 4th, 2020.
  • An EIDL loan of $150,000 on May 16th, 2020.
  • A PPP loan of $257,800 on February 5th, 2021.

Thacker got $650,000 in CARES funding and put it into a personal Coinbase account, using it to buy Bitcoin, Ether, and other cryptocurrency.

Thacker intended to use the funding to help pay the salaries of Thacker Corporation employees. Thacker is the owner and sole proprietor of Thacker Corporation.

As a result of his guilty plea, Thacker will pay all fines and restitution imposed by the Court.

Last week, Thacker attorney Lee Davis told us, “None of the funds in this case have anything to do with Rhea County or Thacker’s position as County Executive. The funds were used in a personal capacity. There are no allegations of wrongdoing in his capacity as Rhea County Executive.”

Thacker was released on a $30,000 bond. Below, read the conditions of his release:

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