Attorney Richard Fields claims mayor is totally misguided

Mayor Herenton at Thursday's press conference
Mayor Herenton at Thursday's press conference
Gwendolyn Smith (courtesy Carter-Malone)
Gwendolyn Smith (courtesy Carter-Malone)
Mug shot of Gwendolyn Smith 06/15/07
Mug shot of Gwendolyn Smith 06/15/07

Reported by Jason Miles

Mayor Herenton made it clear during Thursday's news conference. He finds a former strip club cocktail waitress credible, along with her story that a group of prominent Memphians are looking to bring him down.

"And they're lead by Richard Fields," said Herenton.

"He made a big mistake," says Richard Fields.

Fields says the mayor is totally misguided.

"He really needs to re-think stepping out on this without knowing all the facts," says Fields.

According to Fields, the fact is that he and one-time client Gwen Smith did meet with the FBI. He says she had proof that the Mayor partied with strippers from Platinum Plus. Fields says he never plotted to use it against him.

"And when this woman went to the mayor, he should have called me," says Fields.

Instead, Fields believes the mayor listened to those around him.

"He's got people around him who are "yes" people that don't question some of the things he's doing," says Fields.

Pete Aviotti is the mayor's special assistant.

"The mayor has his own mind and thinks about what he wants to do and what he wants to say," says Aviotti.

Aviotti would not say whether he thinks the mayor actually believes Gwen Smith's story.

"But I don't think he's misguided by anyone or any group of people," says Aviotti.

"Somebody's not making good decisions," says Fields.

Fields believes the mayor's decision to back accusations without proof may prove to be a big blunder.

Reported by Jason Miles 06/15/07 5:00 p.m.

Attorney Richard Fields speaks out about alleged sex plot

Mayor Herenton peppered his press conference Thursday with references to Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. Longtime civil rights attorney Richard Fields has a reference of his own.

"It's not about the color of your skin, but the content of your character and I've never attacked the mayor's character," says Fields.

Like many of you, Fields watched the mayor on Action News 5 accuse him of being the mastermind of a sex plot.

"There is no plot by anybody to get him out of office--the voters will decide that," says Fields.

Fields does say that he and former strip club waitress Gwen Smith did discuss the mayor and did meet with the FBI. But the subject was not the mayor, rather the strip clubs themselves.

"They had just completed a two year investigation of these businesses and she had worked at one of them and she thought she'd be of help to them," says Fields.

Fields admits to giving Gwen Smith money and trying to help her get a car. But he says it was not payment for trying to entrap the mayor.

"She was basically homeless, had two children, trying to get a job, go back to CBU," says Fields.

Fields can't speak to Smith's motivation. But he says the mayor should have known better than to buy her story.

"And when this woman went to the mayor, he should have called me," says Fields.

"I knew he did not have all the facts and that was unfortunate," says Fields.

Richard Fields says he will cooperate with any investigation and has nothing to hide.

The former cocktail waitress at the center of a sex and the city scandal involving Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton is behind bars in Nashville.

Gwendolyn Smith turned herself in to Metro Police Friday afternoon on a probation violation.

Smith has been a wanted woman since November and only re-surfaced when she came forward with claims local businessmen offered her money to seduce the mayor -- and get it on tape.

Mayor Herenton calls the scandal sabotage and he points his finger at several people when it comes to this alleged sex plot. That includes not only local political leaders, but..

"A select representation of the judicial department establishment," Herenton said during Thursday's news conference.

The mayor spells it out in a letter sent to the U-S Attorney General. He states the most troubling aspect of this matter is the alleged involvement of the local offices of the FBI.

But in a statement, Special Agent in Charge My Harrison says quote "I have reviewed Mayor Herenton's letter to Attorney General Gonzales." "And I can state that the allegations of improper conduct by Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel are false."


to email Jason Miles.