Fannin Focus Publisher Mark Thomason Arrested, Journalist or Vendetta?Featured, Featured Stories, News July 4, 2016
“If someone starts a fire, takes pictures, calls for a fire truck, follows the fire truck to the scene, asks what happened, writes the story, does that make them a journalist or an arsonist?” BKP
Lynn Doss, Fannin County Attorney, “If (Judge) Roger Bradley was on fire I would throw a bucket of gasoline on him.”
A Pickens County Grand Jury returned true bills on Friday, June 24th and indicted Fannin Focus Publisher Mark Brannon Thomason for 1 count of Identity Fraud, 1 count of Attempt to Commit Identity Fraud, and 1 count of Making a False Statement. Thomason’s Attorney, Russell Stookey of Hiawassee Georgia, was also indicted for 1 count of Identity Fraud and 1 count of Attempt to Commit Identity Fraud. Thomason and Stookey were released Saturday the 25th on $10,000 bond with conditions. Ashleigh Merchant from Atlanta is Thomason’s Attorney.
Immediately on Monday morning Thomason started looking for any media outlet who would listen to his story. Journalist arrested, claiming his First Amendment Rights had been violated. Repeating to anyone who would listen how he was arrested for making an open records request, requesting checks from the Appalachian Judicial District Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver and (retired) Judge Roger Bradley claiming the checks appeared to have been cashed instead of deposited.
Thomason knew asserting his rights were violated- Freedom of the Press, Open Records Requests and possible judicial corruption would bring the media out of the woodwork in his defense. He was right. State and National Media outlets and publications have rushed to write “Journalist Jailed.” Even Georgia First Amendment Foundation wrote “North Georgia publisher jailed in open records matter” and has offered its help to Thomason. In a comment to the Dalton Free Citizen Thomason indicated he plans to file a First Amendment lawsuit because he believes the arrest was a clear example of government “retaliating against a citizen for exercising First Amendment rights.”
Thomason is playing the “poor journalist went to jail” act really well. He made the following comment on his FaceBook page “It’s sad that we live in a world where a message is now being sent to all journalist–you do your job and you just may go to jail!”. Thomason’s quote in AJC “I was astounded, in disbelief that there were even any charges to be had,” said Thomason, 37, who grew up in Fannin County. “I take this as a punch at journalists across the nation that if we continue to do our jobs correctly, then we have to live in fear of being imprisoned.”
“Vendetta, a series of acts done by someone over a long period of time to cause harm to a disliked person or group”
As a defender of Freedom of the Press, before everyone rushes to the defense of the Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason, let’s take a look at some of the inconsistencies in his story. We will identify the possibility of vendettas which Thomason and others may have against Judge Roger Bradley and Judge Brenda Weaver.
Thomason’s reason for wanting to see the Judges’ checks he claims is because he received a tip. Sources tell FYN that many of Thomason’s tips came from Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss.
In the Dalton Free Citizen article Thomason told a reporter while the lawsuits were dismissed, and her request to have attorney’s fees paid were denied, Thomason received another tip that the court reporter’s legal expenses were paid out of public funds, viz. Judge Weaver’s court expense funds that are paid out of the Fannin County general fund budget. That’s when Thomason made the open records request for the checks.
This statement may be inconsistent with the facts. Thomason’s claim that he wanted the checks to prove how the court reporter Rhonda Stubblefield’s legal expenses had been paid may not be valid. Why would he need this when he has the letter? Judge Brenda Weaver sent a letter on November 24, 2015 to Gilmer County Chairman Charlie Paris, Pickens County Chairman Rob Jones and Fannin County Chairman Bill Simonds. The letter explains the reasoning for approving the payment of Stubblefield’s legal expenses from Judge Bradley’s operating account. Judge Weaver asks for the Chairman to contact her if they have any opposition to the payment. Thomason had a copy of the letter. Thomason even wrote an article in his paper concerning Weaver paying Stubblefield’s legal expenses.
Thomason has never commented about the fact that he lost the case he brought against court reporter Rhonda Stubblefield. Thomason’s claim that audio in the courtroom did not match the transcript was never proved. Thomason and his Attorney Russell Stookey put on quite the show during the court proceedings. Claiming there were several witnesses who could prove the audio and transcript had been altered. Judge Martha Christian accepted their request to depose and present witnesses. On the day of the trial when the court read the list of depositions entered into evidence several were missing. Mary Beth Priest, attorney for Stubblefield, questioned the missing depositions. Judge Christian asked Stookey about the depositions which were missing from the witness list. Stookey seemed surprised and, after a short recess, reported to the court that they found out that the court reporter had not been paid so she did not file the depositions in the Clerk of Courts office. Stookey told Judge Christian that they were in the process of paying the court reporter and the depositions would be filed. Although this caused a delay in the case Judge Christian accepted having the depositions filed at a later date for her to read. It appeared Judge Christian was giving Thomason and Stookey every opportunity to prove their case. In court Stookey always liked to play the F.B.I. is investigating the case and his client is being followed and is in fear for his life. Judge Christian ruled that Stubblefield filed the transcript in question properly with the clerk’s office and there was no evidence the audio had been altered.
Who was adding fuel to the fire and pushing Thomason on what to do next? I remember Lynn Doss coming into the courtroom and sitting next to Thomason. In the back of the courtroom the two of them would review paperwork and Doss would whisper into Thomason’s ear.
So was Thomason being the great investigative reporter everyone is giving him credit for or just staying focused on the agenda and vendetta. Doss had nothing to do with the case so why was she sitting in the back with Thomason during the case. Doss is the Attorney for Fannin County, Fannin County Water Authority, and Fannin County Board of Education along with her private practice. I am sure she had much more pressing issues to handle rather than to be sitting in the courtroom with Thomason whispering in his ear. Maybe a vendetta.
This was never about Rhonda Stubblefield. She was the one caught in the middle of the vendetta. Do you think Lynn Doss and Mark Thomason are just trying to do the right thing by Ray Green you know, aka N…. Ray?
From an artical in Gawker.com
Thomason, whose dedication to this courtroom slur story is really something else, had his lawyer file paperwork in an attempt to legally compel the stenographer, whose name is Rhonda Stubblefield, to release the audio recording. She filed a counterclaim, asking Thomason for $1.6 million in damages(!) for allegedly defaming her in his story by implying that her transcripts might not be completely accurate. A judge closed Thomason’s case against Stubblefield, and Stubblefield dropped her counterclaim.
Didn’t quite happen that way. Stubblefield did not drop her $1.6 million defamation case because Judge Christian closed Thomason’s case against her. Thomason lost his case. When Thomason lost it basically confirmed that most likely Stubblefield would win the $1.6 million defamation case.
When FYN asked Stubblefield’s Attorney Mary Beth Priest why they dropped the case she told us they could not find any value in the Fannin Focus or Thomason personally. Thomason claims to be the owner of the paper. Sources tell FYN that Thomason lives in his mother’s basement. In May the Fannin Focus was served a dispossessory notice on its office space in the amount of $16,000 for back rent. In 2009 Ford Motor filed a Fi Fa (Writ of Fieri Facias) in the amount $18,638.73.
On January 21st of this year Tonya Nuelle filed a complaint in Fannin Magistrate court stating “I loaned Mark $3,300 on 10/04/15 he promised to pay me back in full on 10/31/15. He has paid me nothing as of to date. Sources tell FYN there is a list of people that have loaned Thomason money who have not been repaid. Mystery surrounds the source of revenue for the Fannin Focus. Stubblefield’s attorney told FYN after the research on Thomason and the Fannin Focus her client was going to have to invest a lot of money into a court case and come out with basically a worthless piece of paper.
Thomason told the Dalton Free Citizen Dalton “ According to the rural north Georgia journalist, he simply made open records requests that made people in powerful positions angry.”
Again not a true statement. Thomason was never denied an open records request.
Thomason sent an open records request to Fannin County CFO Rita Davis Kirby for copies of checks. When Kirby sent Thomason the cost from the bank to get the checks and redact them she never heard back from Thomason. Thomason was not denied the open records. FYN has a copy of an email Pickens County CFO Faye Harvey sent Thomason concerning his request for the checks.
From: Faye Harvey Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 9:35 AM To: [email protected]
Cc: Robert Jones; Deborah Watson Subject: Open Records request
I received your request for documents regarding the Judges’ quarterly operating expense for the previous 3 years. I estimate that the retrieval and printing of the cleared checks from our bank account archives will take 3.5 hours and can be done by my assistant, whose hourly rate is $18.00. The cost for performing this request is $58.50 for personnel time plus $2.40 for copies. Please forward payment in the amount of $60.90 and we will begin compiling the requested information. I am attaching a copy of Pickens County’s open record request form which is on the county website pickenscountyga.gov under the “Pickens County” tab on the home page. Best regards, Faye Harvey, Finance Director Pickens County Government
Faye Harvey never received a response from Thomason. No one denied Thomason the checks through open records request. Another false statement from Thomason. If Thomason would have received the checks through open records request the account and routing numbers would have been redacted.
So how did he and his Attorney Russell Stookey get copies of the checks? Could it have been Lynn Doss? Did Lynn Doss misuse her position as County Attorney to get the checks and then give them to Thomason and Stookey with the account numbers still on the checks? Maybe the District Attorney missed one indictment in this story?
Why did Thomason think the checks had been cashed instead of deposited? What would lead him to believe the numbers on the check indicated they had been cashed. How did he know what was on the checks? Would he once again be following the lead of Lynn Doss. We understand Doss told people a local Bank Executive Manager said the numbers on the checks indicated an override and the checks had been cashed. Wonder if Thomason heard this from Doss? We understand the Bank Executive denies telling anyone what the numbers indicated. The Bank Executive is on the witness list which District Attorney B. Allison presented to the Grand Jury.
Pickens County CFO Faye Harvey, Gilmer County CFO Sandi Holden, and Fannin County CFO Rita Davis Kirby released a statement stating they had reviewed the front and back of each check and all checks appear to have been endorsed properly (Deposit Only) and deposited into the proper accounts. The Statements are posted at the bottom of this article.
There is a difference between a motion for evidence using a subpoena and an open records request. So if the case is closed, Stubblefield has dropped her case and you know for a fact that Stubblefield’s legal expenses have been paid out of Judge Bradley’s operating account why push so hard for checks? To prove what?
Maybe Lynn Doss? Doss’s husband resigned as a Superior Court Judge as the JQC was preparing to recommend formal charges for Harry Doss in 2009.
“Judge under state investigation resigns
By TOM CRAWFORD | Published: NOVEMBER 9, 2009
Judge Oliver Harris “Harry” Doss Jr. of Blue Ridge, who was facing the possibility of a trial before the Judicial Qualifications Commission on charges concerning his behavior in courtroom proceedings, has resigned his Superior Court judgeship effective Dec. 5.In his resignation letter to Gov. Sonny Perdue, Doss said he was told that the JQC, using “newly discovered information,” was going to file formal charges against him. Those charges could be avoided, Doss said, if he resigned from the bench by Nov. 7; his letter of resignation is dated Nov. 6.”
Lynn Doss made the remark to FYN in the past that she thought Brenda Weaver and Roger Bradley were involved in her husband’s JQC investigation that eventually lead to her husband’s resignation.
Lynn Doss has such a dislike for Roger Bradley she didn’t even want to have Bradley preside over one of her cases. When Scott Kiker became Probate Judge Chief Judge Brenda Weaver entered a recusal order for all Judges in the district to not preside over Kiker’s cases. Knowing this Doss went as far as to have Fannin County Probate Judge Scott Kiker enter an appearance on one of her cases to force Bradley to recuse himself and have the case assigned to a visiting Judge. Lynn Doss and Scott Kiker are co-counsel on several cases and her husband Harry Doss is the Fannin County Probate Court Public Defender where Kiker is the Judge. Interesting.
Vendetta? Maybe. Rogers gone, now Brenda? Maybe Kiker wanted one of the open Superior Court seats? He interviewed for the seat with Governor Deal. There is much more to this part of the story we don’t have time for today. Oh, by the way, Mark Thomason is Scott Kiker’s cousin. Just say’in.
Questions surround Thomason’s bond conditions. First let’s look at the drug testing. Thomason is no stranger to court ordered drug testing. Just check court records. In Thomason’s divorce, which Judge Bradley presided over in 2011, in Thomason’s ex-wife’s petition for full custody of the two minor children, she made a statement to the court that while the children were in Thomason’s custody he used illegal drugs. Judge Bradley awarded full custody of the two minor children to his ex-wife and gave Thomason supervised visitation. Court records show that Thomason has been in contempt of the order several times for back child support. Judge Bradley even ordered Thomason arrested in the past for his neglect to pay his child support. Maybe some reasons for a vendetta against the judge? Just this May, Division of Child Support Services issued a Complaint for Contempt against Thomason for back child support in the amount $2,004.00. Sources tell FYN Harry Doss may be his attorney in this matter.
On June 5th 2012 Fannin Magistrate Court issued a warrant for Thomason’s arrest for theft by taking. Jeffery Meeks claimed Thomason took $350, a checkbook, a birth certificate, a social security card and other miscellaneous papers from his car. Thomason was released on a $1,000 bond.
Thomason says one of his bond conditions is he can not be within 200 yard of the witness the District Attorney plans to call in the case. Some of the witnesses include Lynn Doss, Rita Davis Kirby, Ruth Jordan, Scott Kiker, Bill Simonds, Robert Jones, Melissa Queen, Dana Chastain, and Carol Caywood (Stearns Bank). There are several more.
So Mark Thomason and his Attorney Russell Stookey want you to believe that District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee presented this to a grand jury made up of sixteen Pickens County Citizens who don’t even know who they are but returned a true bill indicting Thomason on three counts and Stookey on two counts because Thomason angered some powerful people with a open records request. I can’t wait to watch this play out, maybe more indictments to come. Journalist jailed or Vendetta?
Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee told the AP on Friday that the false statement “has nothing to do with an attempt of Mr. Thomason to access records utilizing the Open Records Act.”
She said the charge “specifically relates to the statement that he included within his request.” Sosebee said she couldn’t elaborate on the charges since the case is open but that the charges related to Thomason and Stookey’s use of the subpoena were “based on a totality of the circumstances.”
One should question why the online news network who wrote “Video Journalist Forcefully Removed From Republican Meeting!” and was a guest of Nydia Tisdale’s at this past years Georgia First Amendment Foundation Banquet has not written a story in defense of Thomason? Because there is much more to the story that Thomason is sharing with all who will listen.
The way Thomason’s publication, the Fannin Focus, reads one may get the idea they have an agenda. An article in the AJC by Rhonda Cook stated Judge Brenda Weaver said others in the community were using Thomason to get her. “It’s clear this is a personal vendetta against me,” she said. “I don’t know how else to explain that.”
The vendetta against Judge Weaver and Bradley go way back for Lynn Doss and Mark Thomason. Both for different reasons. When Bradley used the racial slur in the courtroom, “N” Ray, Doss was quick to let everyone who would listen know what the Judge said. She called FYN to tell us what happened. You could hear the excitement in her voice as she explained what Bradley said in the courtroom. She exclaimed this is big. I don’t see how Bradley will survive this one. FYN told Doss we would start gathering the facts so that we could write the story. In a Dalton Citizen article by Jim Zachary, Thomason said Back in early 2015 he had gotten wind of another local judge using racial slurs in open court. That wind was Lynn Doss. FYN received the same wind from Lynn Doss. When Doss contacted FYN about the story she let us know Mark Thomason was already on the story.
Doss called FYN the following day to inquire about when we would be writing a story concerning what Bradley said in the courtroom. I told Doss that at this time I could not verify what took place in the courtroom and did not know who said what. Accusations were being made about several people and I needed more information before I could write anything. Her tone noticeably changed and she became angry. That is when she told me, “If Roger Bradley was on fire I would throw a bucket of gasoline on him.”
This comment made me realize she was more interested in me being a part of her vendetta against Bradley than FYN writing an accurate story for our readers. It was clear that this was much more to her and Thomason than a racial slur.
Wonder if Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss will ever have to explain that comment and just how far she would take her vendetta against both Superior Court Judges Roger Bradley and Brenda Weaver. We may soon find out.
Allen Duray Green AKA Ray Green AKA N….Ray. I met Ray Green approximately 13 years ago in Union County on a construction job site. I was waiting to meet Ray concerning some building materials he wanted to purchase. When Ray showed up he got out of his truck and introduced himself to me as N…. Ray. I said Mr. Green, he stopped me and said everyone calls me N…. Ray. I am the N…. of Union County. So when Ray Green says with tears in his eyes that he is so hurt because he has never been N…. Ray, he is Ray Green. That is a lie. Click here to watch my video interview with Ray Green. When Thomason sued Rhonda Stubblefield over the court audio one of his witnesses, Walter Liete, in his deposition under oath admitted to how Ray Green referred to himself. N…. Ray. Wonder if Thomason knows this?
Judge Bradley was hearing a bond revocation motion for Robert Vivian AKA Robo the day the racial slur was used in the courtroom. The District Attorney’s office was asking for Vivian’s bond to be revoked based on accusations that Vivian was threatening witnesses in his case. Ray Green was in the courtroom as a witness for Vivian. Vivian and Green were business partners in construction. The transcript showed that the Assistant District Attorney Martin referred to Ray Green using his street name N…. Ray. That lead to Judge Bradley to ask if N…. Ray was relation to a Fannin County man back in the 70’s who everyone referred to N…. Bob. The Judge said in the transcript he was not saying that disparagingly. Everyone knew Bob referred to himself as N…. Bob. FYN knows this to be true on both accounts, Ray and Bob. Click to read court transcript.
A couple of months after Vivian’s Bond revocation hearing where the racial slur was said Vivian pled guilty in front of Judge Amanda Mercier in a Gilmer County Courtroom. FYN was present. Vivian was sentenced for one count of arson, one count of burglary, and one count of theft by taking. Sentenced to 30 years and to serve 9 years with the balance to be served on probation. Robert Vivian and Ray Green with the help of Mark Thomason did everything they could to use the “N” word to muddy the waters in Vivian’s case.
You see I could write much more I was there and can tell the story in detail.
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