County Official Pleads Guilty in 'Tennessee Waltz' Scandal

A county official pleaded to guilty to bribery Monday in a public corruption investigation that has also led to the arrests of several state lawmakers.

Shelby County Commissioner Michael Hooks Sr. was accused of taking $24,000 in payoffs from FBI agents posing as businessmen seeking a contract with county government. He pleaded guilty on the day his trial was to start, admitting that he took a bribe during the sting operation.

"I entered a plea of guilty simply because I am," Hooks, who resigned from office effective Monday, said after court.

Hooks was one of 11 people, including five current or former state lawmakers, charged in the investigation. It was code-named Tennessee Waltz and built around a fake company called E-Cycle Management that sought favors from government officials.

Hooks is the second elected official to plead guilty, and his plea gives Tennessee Waltz prosecutors their sixth conviction. Four people, including two legislators, are awaiting trial.

The charge Hooks admitted carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, but his deal with prosecutors should result in lighter punishment.