Cothren joins Casada in filing for delay in corruption trial

By: - September 13, 2022 6:01 am
Cade Cothren, former chief of staff to ex-House Speaker Glen Casada, leaving the federal courthouse in Nashville following his arraignment on conspiracy charges. (John Partipilo)

Cade Cothren, former chief of staff to ex-House Speaker Glen Casada, leaving the federal courthouse in Nashville following his arraignment on conspiracy charges. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Cade Cothren, former chief of staff to ex-House Speaker Rep. Glen Casada, has joined Casada in seeking a delay of his trial on federal bribery, theft and kickback charges.

Cothren, who was fired in 2019 amid a racist and sexist texting scandal that engulfed Casada’s speakership, filed a request Monday in federal court asking for his Oct. 25 trial to be postponed, waiving his right to a speedy trial.

Cothren’s attorney, Cynthia Sherwood of Nashville, said in the filing Cothren “intends to vigorously defend” himself against the allegations in a 20-count indictment and needs time to evaluate evidence and conduct his own “independent investigation.”

Federal prosecutors say Cothren hid his identity and set up a phony New Mexico-based vendor called Phoenix Solutions and did constituent mailers for Republican House members in 2020. Casada and former Rep. Robin Smith conspired to hide his identity to make sure no one found out he was running the company and steered business to him in return for kickbacks. While perpetrating the scheme, they referred to Cothren primarily as “Matthew Phoenix,” according to indictments.

Smith pleaded guilty in the scheme in February and is cooperating with federal authorities.

Rep. Todd Warner, R-Lewisburg (Photo: John Partipilo)
Rep. Todd Warner, R-Lewisburg (Photo: John Partipilo)

Casada earlier filed a request for up to a six-month delay in his trial on the same charges Cothren is facing, including bribery, theft from programs receiving federal funds, kickbacks and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted, each of them could face up to 20 years in prison.

Cothren also faces a Sept. 21 Chancery Court hearing in Nashville in connection with contempt charges levied by the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance for refusing to respond to two subpoenas. He is seeking a delay in that hearing.

The Registry board ordered Cothren to answer questions and provide documents about his involvement in a political action committee called the Faith Family Freedom Fund, which played a role in the 2020 House race between current Rep. Todd Warner of Chapel Hill, who defeated incumbent Rick Tillis, a political enemy of Casada.

A former girlfriend of Cothren told the Registry board under oath that she set up the political action committee at his request and turned over the operation to him.

Initially, a campaign worker for Tillis filed a complaint with the Registry that illegal coordination took place between the Warner campaign and the Faith Family Freedom Fund, but the board took no action at first.

Since then, the board turned over its investigation of the matter to Williamson County District Attorney Kim Helper and sent the case regarding Cothren’s refusal to show up for a subpoena to the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office.

In a letter to the Registry board, Cothren said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. But he refused to show up or provide the documentation requested.



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Sam Stockard
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.

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