Self-employed horse trainer appeals forgery conviction to Supreme Court

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Rutherford County man -- whose appeal against his Marshall County conviction was recently denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals -- intends to take his case to the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

Brian Mark Driggers, 39, of Eagleville, was arrested on Feb. 1, because he had to be in custody when the appeals court rendered its decision. However, he filed a $10,000 appeal bond and was released the same day.

Driggers, a "self-employed horse trainer," according to his jail-booking sheet, was indicted on 12 counts of forgery and theft that allegedly took place in the summer of 2008. He had a jury trial in June 2009. The jury found him guilty on only three counts, all relating to a check for $500 that he made out to himself and had his wife cash. It was written on the account of his then-employer, Free Spirit Farm, owned by Robert and Veeda Kielbasa, and was signed with a forgery of Veeda Kielbasa's signature.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler sentenced Driggers to 15 months in the Tennessee Department of Corrections at 30 percent, and 11 months 29 days in the county jail, the sentences to run concurrent. He was also ordered to pay restitution. Driggers posted bond, and remained free, pending appeal.

In the victim-impact statements for the pre-sentence report prepared by Terese Frazier of the Board of Probation and Parole, the Kielbasas had some bitter comments about Driggers.

He "gained my confidence and was the primary factor in my making some ill-advised decisions," Robert Kielbasa wrote. He "caused an emotional rift in my relationship with my wife which may never heal. We trusted him and he tried to stick it to us."

Veeda Kielbasa anticipates Driggers will commit another crime if he's not punished.

"This person will always find a victim to prey on to benefit himself with no concern or remorse," Veeda Kielbasa wrote. "If you let him walk, he is going to do it again."

In contrast, Driggers insisted that he's innocent.

"I did not do this," the defendant said. "I was simply doing what I was told... I have a beautiful wife and a four-year-old son, whom I work hard for every day, that I love with all my heart. And I did not do this."

On his most recent jail-booking sheet, however, Driggers reports his marital status as "divorced" and number of children as "0."

Driggers was represented at trial by attorney Clay Parker of Shelbyville, and at appeal by John D. Schwalb of Franklin.

The pre-sentence report reveals that Driggers has a conviction for fraud in Georgia. Frazier states Driggers told her "he received a loan on the basis he would plant a certain type of crop and then he planted a different type of crop. The restitution owed on this bank fraud conviction was $219,713.13." According to Frazier's report, Driggers paid restitution at $150 per month until he was released from federal probation in 2007. Allegedly, he still owes $203,839.92, and has not made a payment for over three years.