Federal prosecutors have charged former Tennessee state House Speaker Glen Casada and his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren for conducting a scheme to enrich themselves with state funds. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/466f2b61c4744e7236acc8d36d9f4e6b/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Federal prosecutors have charged former Tennessee state House Speaker Glen Casada and his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren for conducting a scheme to enrich themselves with state funds. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 23 (UPI) — Federal prosecutors said they have charged former Tennessee state House Speaker Glen Casada and his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren for conspiring with another legislator in a bribery and kickback scheme involving government funds.

The Justice Department announced in a statement Tuesday that Casada, 63, of Franklin, Tenn., and Cothren, 35, of Nashville, have been charged with conspiracy to commit theft from programs receiving federal funds; bribery and kickbacks concerning programs receiving federal funds; honest services wire fraud; and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Both made their initial court appearance Tuesday and pleaded not guilty, The Tennessean reported.

If convicted, Casada and Cothren each face up to 20 years in prison for certain individual counts in the 20-count indictment, though a federal district court judge will determine the sentence after considering sentencing guidelines and other factors, the Justice Department said.

Prosecutors accuse the pair of seeking to enrich themselves by using Casada’s position and that of the unnamed former state House representative known to be Robin Smith to obtain state approval for Phoenix Solutions, a company established by Cothren, as a vendor to provide constituent mail services to members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Smith, who resigned from office in March, pled guilty early that same month to a single count of honest service wire fraud for her involvement in the scheme.

Court documents state Cothren, in exchange for securing the approval for his company to act as a mailer program vendor, paid kickbacks and bribes to Casada and Smith.

All three are also accused of similarly conspiring together to obtain funds not only for Phoenix Solutions, but Casada’s political consulting business and a political consulting business owned by Robin.

Prosecutors said the scheme was perpetrated by the trio’s claims that Phoenix Solutions was operated by an individual named “Matthew Phoenix” whom they described as an experienced political consultant who worked for a Washington, D.C.-based firm.

They further concealed their involvement in the company by submitting “sham invoices” to the state in the names of companies owned by Casada and Robin for the purpose of funneling money from Tennessee to Phoenix Solutions, court documents state.

According to prosecutors, Phoenix Solutions received nearly $52,000 in payments connected to the mailer program through the scheme.

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