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Press Release

HCSO Personnel Receive Commendations from Department of Homeland Security


HCSO Personnel Receive Commendations from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)

Hamilton County, TN - This morning, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Austin Garrett, along with several of our Investigative Services personnel, joined with Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy to celebrate the grand opening of the new United States Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Office on Century Oaks Drive. During today’s ceremony, several high ranking federal law enforcement personnel with the Department of Justice and Homeland Security were in attendance including the honorable Francis Trey Hamilton, III, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, HSI Special Agent in Charge Jerry C. Templet, Jr., Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ronald J. Appel, and local Resident Agent in Charge Arturo Napolitano.

In addition to today’s grand opening ceremony, several members of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and the Chattanooga Police Department received commendations from the Department of Homeland Security officials for their efforts to investigate several high profile incidents in coordination with their HSI counterparts.

HCSO Sergeant Ed Merritt received a commendation for his efforts to investigate several individuals for U.S. Code violations related to the production of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). While partnering with Homeland Security Investigations personnel in Chattanooga, Sergeant Merritt was able to identify and rescue two children who were the victims of abuse involving a multi-state investigation that led to the conviction and sentencing of Anthony Brett Banks and Teela Faye Hendrix. During a second investigation, Sergeant Merritt helped to identify and ultimately rescue an eleven year old girl who was being victimized every summer by her step grandfather. The abuse involved the production of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and was found to span a time period of five years. The grandfather, Tommy Keen, plead guilty to charges related to the productions of CSAM and was sentenced to 300 months incarceration.

HCSO Detective Danny Stone received a commendation for his efforts to investigate Ryan Meyung for U.S. Code violations related to the production of child pornography and Tennessee Law Violations related to child rape and kidnapping. His efforts, in partnership with Chattanooga Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations personnel, led to the arrest of Meyung and the identification of (14) child victims across five states.

“This morning, I was honored to join Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy to not only celebrate the grand opening of the new Homeland Security Investigations Office, but to recognize our personnel who were awarded commendations for going above and beyond the call of duty to investigate several cases involving the sexual assault and exploitation of children from our community. In order to be successful in combating the ever growing number of sexual crimes against our community’s children and those who perpetrate them, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies must continue to work together in a unified approach. I am proud of the strong, collaborative relationships the HCSO has built with not only with our counterparts in the HSI, but all of our local, state and federal partners.” stated Chief Deputy Austin Garrett.

Please join with us as we offer our congratulations to Sergeant Ed Merritt and Detective Danny Stone for receiving commendations and for their service to the citizens of Hamilton County.

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Phone: (423) 209-7000