Is sheriff candidate breaking state law?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A candidate for Marshall County sheriff has made statements against his interest when asked where his vehicle is registered.

Answers from Patrick Ryan, 25, raise questions about: whether he's paid the Marshall County wheel tax; his residency; and his service as a volunteer with the Maury County Fire Department.

"My car is registered in Maury County because of the fire department," Ryan said Friday afternoon at his job in the Columbia Mall Radio Shack store.

Ryan is a volunteer with the Maury County Fire Department, he and one of the officers of the department have said.

"If I need to (change the tags,) I will," he said after explaining what qualifies a volunteer for fire fighter tags.

Ryan has listed 1711 Fox Lane as his address in Lewisburg.

"I don't show a vehicle registered to that address," Marshall County Clerk Daphne Fagan said Tuesday morning when asked about Ryan's vehicle registration. "I have nothing currently registered at this address."

She declined to be more specific about Ryan, but spoke in general about vehicle registration plates and the county wheel tax. The Sheriff's Department enforces wheel tax payment issues, such as the display of a wheel tax sticker on any specialty license plate, Fagan said.

"Every resident of this county should display their Marshall County tax decal," she said.

The wheel tax is $50 per year.

Since 9-11 and greater homeland security, firefighters are registered with the state and that creates a list that qualifies a firefighter for that kind of specialty tag, Ryan explained.

"I got firefighter tags in the last few months," he continued. "I didn't have to have them, but I got stopped by a couple of Williamson County deputies on Interstate 65."

They noticed that he has emergency lights on his vehicle.

"They tried to tell me that I had to have firefighter tags, which I know is not so, but to avoid confusion, I just got those tags," he said.

That was before he moved to Lewisburg, he said.

On Feb. 22, Ryan said he's been living at 1711 Fox Lane for the past "few months."

Ryan provided a phone number for the fire department where he's a volunteer. It's on the east side of Columbia.

"Our policy is that they live in the county," said Roy Brooks, one of two assistant chiefs, said Tuesday. "If they change (their address) they need to turn in a change-of-address form."

Asked if he knows whether Ryan is a Maury County resident, Brooks replied, "I'm assuming he is, but he should be, at least at the time he was appointed and taken into the recruit class."

Can he remain a Maury County firefighter if he lives in Lewisburg?

"He would have to turn in a change of address form and it would have to be taken up by his district chief," Brooks said. "If there's a temporary job issue, we may give them a leave of absence for a family emergency ... or military service."

Brooks also pointed out that "Firefighter tags are state-issued. It's just up to the county to issue them."

Other questions have been forwarded to the Marshall County Tribune about Patrick. One raises question on whether he lives with his parents.

His father died years ago.

His mother had been living with relatives in North Carolina, he said.

"She moved back about the end of January or the first of February," he said. Ryan sometimes stays overnight at his mother's home and he's consistently stated 1711 Fox Lane as his residence.