Councilwoman, former clerks involved in DMV scandal in court - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Councilwoman, former clerks involved in DMV scandal appear in court

Barbara Swearingen Ware (file) Barbara Swearingen Ware (file)

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - About a dozen former Shelby County Clerks and Memphis Councilwoman Barbara Swearengen-Ware reported to court Wednesday morning to face criminal charges in an alleged bribery scandal that rocked the DMV.

Fifteen clerks are charged with taking bribes in exchange for auto inspection stickers, while Ware is accused of paying five dollars for registration without an inspection eight times between 2002 and 2009.

During Wednesday's hearing, half the courtroom was packed with her supporters.  Proceedings involved one recess where attorneys and clients huddled outside the courtroom. followed by a second recess where nine defense attorneys and prosecutors left the courtroom to talk in the judge's chambers.

"There are certain matters that come up in the midst of trials that lawyers need to discuss with judges and we had a discussion," said Ware's attorney, Robert Spence. "That's about all I can tell you."

Spence wouldn't say if they were discussing a plea deal.  Last December, Ware pleaded not guilty.  Meanwhile, the indictment prohibits her from voting on the council.

"I am innocent and I'm ready to get this behind me," she said.

Ware said she appreciates her constituents' patience, and she looks forward to returning to council.

Court resumes April 7th.

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