Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton: Possible indictment? - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton: Possible indictment?

A federal investigation of Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton is heating up. 
The investigation is a labyrinth of business deals that raise the question: Did the Mayor use his public office for personal gain?

For years, federal investigators have been looking into the mayor's business dealings. But more recently, numerous sources reveal that testimony has been taken from a number of Herenton associates.
Elvin Moon's attorney confirms Moon has been questioned. Moon was involved with the mayor on several non-competitive city contracts.
A Commercial Appeal investigation revealed that while Herenton publicly pushed to move Greyhound out of the downtown bus station and move the Memphis Area Transit Authority in, he privately obtained the rights to buy and redevelop the property. 
According to the paper, it was Moon who brokered the deal that made Herenton more than $90,000.

The Memphis Flyer's political columnist, Jackson Baker, has also been following the case. 

"The two-things-all-in-one deal is incentive enough for any zealous prosecutor to keep looking for more things like that," he said.

There have been hints from Herenton himself that trouble is brewing.

"I'm not sure what's going on. All I know is there is a clear agenda," the mayor said.
Herenton's resignation attempt last year never materialized after the Memphis City School Board ignored his interest in becoming the next superintendent of schools.

"That didn't work. The school board didn't hire him, and he's back in the fire," said Baker.

No one can say for sure if the Mayor will be indicted, but Baker says the investigation is a distraction. "But it certainly makes it difficult for the mayor to run city government because there are all sorts of people jumping off the ship right now."

The grand jury witnesses include Herenton's son and someone who may know more about Herenton than anyone: his longtime special assistant, Pete Aviotti.

"Pete Aviotti knows everything that's ever gone on in the mayor's private affairs as they effect the public sector," said Baker.

On the day of his 'state of the city' address, Herenton said he can't let this investigation distract him.

"I've got to stay focused on being the best mayor I can be for the city," he said.

Click here to e-mail Anna Marie Hartman.

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