Probation officer faces bribery charges - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Probation officer faces bribery charges

Joseph Wells  (Source: Shelby County Jail) Joseph Wells (Source: Shelby County Jail)

(WMC-TV) - A Shelby County Probation Officer who went out on a limb for one of his clients now faces bribery, extortion, and official misconduct charges.

Joseph Wells, a probation officer with the Justice Network of Shelby County, was released from the Shelby County Jail on his own recognizance.

According to an affidavit of complaint, Wells told Todd Bussard, who is on diversion until January 2014 on a misdemeanor drug charge, that he had failed his most recent drug test.

Wells allegedly told Bussard that he could vouch for him in front of the judge, but it would cost him $250.

"This is just so outrageous," said The Justice Network CEO Paul Ross

The Justice Network is a private company that provides probation, diversion, drug testing, and other programs and services to non-violent, misdemeanor offenders in Shelby County.

"My employees would, just assume, saw their legs off as to mislead the court or do something dishonest and I know that. We all feel that way," said Ross.

Wells was fired upon his arrest.

"[In] Twenty-three years we've never had anything even remotely like this happen, and we're still reeling from it," said Ross.

Ross says The Justice Network is reviewing its processes to make sure this never happens again. And they are helping police review Wells' case files to determine if it has ever happened before.

"It's not who we are. We're in the business of helping clients not trying to shake them down," said Ross.

Wells worked as a probation officer since February 2012. His client alerted police.

Investigators say they have an audiotape of Wells trying to make the deal.

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