Appeal denied, defendant jailed

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Supreme Court of Tennessee has decided against hearing an appeal from a Rutherford County man who was convicted in Marshall County.

The Court issued an order for the arrest of Brian Mark Driggers, 40, of Eagleville, on June 2, because he had to be in custody when the decision was rendered.

Since he is not permitted to appeal, Driggers re-entered the county jail to start serving his sentence, eventually in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Driggers' appeal was denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals early this year. He was arrested on Feb. 1 because he had to be in custody when the appeals court rendered this 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 at the same time. He was also ordered to pay restitution. Driggers posted bond, and remained free, pending appeal.

Driggers insists that he's innocent.

"I did not do this," he told Terese Frazier of the Board of Probation and Parole. "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."

In the victim-impact statements for the pre-sentence report prepared by Frazier, Driggers' victims, the Kielbasas, had some bitter comments.

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."

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