Longtime Jefferson City Council member Larry Teeples, 77, of Jefferson has been charged with extortion after allegedly telling Jefferson Police Chief Mark Clouse that he would no longer support the police department in council votes unless officers backed away from enforcement involving his grandchildren.
The charge was filed Jan. 23, and Teeples was arrested and released Jan. 25.
Greene County Sheriff Jack Williams filed the affidavit in the case. According to the affidavit, Clouse on Jan. 3 asked Williams to document an encounter the previous day when Teeples had come to the law enforcement center to talk with Clouse.
Clouse told Williams that Teeples said he would not support the police department as a councilman “unless the police department left his grandchildren alone.”
Williams and GCSO secretary Karen White had both heard yelling from behind a closed door during the Jan. 2 meeting. Wiilliams saw Clouse tell Teeples to leave the building. After being told to go several times, Teeples complied.
White wrote in a statement that she heard Teeples use profanity and complain of a traffic stop that involved his granddaughter. Apparently, an officer had stopped the young woman and searched the vehicle for marijuana. A traffic stop and vehicle search were not listed in the Jefferson Police Department’s daily reports in the days leading up to the confrontation.
White wrote that she heard Teeples say he was “tired of this” and would “no longer support the police department unless his grandkids were left alone.”
Williams also talked with Jefferson City Administrator Mike Palmer, who said Teeples had visited with him shortly after the confrontation with Clouse. According to Palmer, Teeples admitted to telling Clouse “he would have a hard time voting for anything police-related.”
Williams talked with Teeples about the situation Jan. 7. According to the affidavit, Teeples said “he got mad and said stuff that he shouldn’t have, and that it was over as far as he was concerned,”
Williams told Teeples his statement to Clouse met the definition of extortion under the Iowa Criminal Code. Williams offered to reschedule the interview if Teeples wanted an attorney present. Teeples said he didn’t need an attorney and would resign from the council if that’s what Williams wanted. Williams responded that all he wanted was to hear from Teeples what had happened.
According to Williams’ affidavit, “Larry stated that he told Chief Clouse that over the years he has given all that they (the JPD) wanted and from now on he is going to vote no on some of that stuff.”
Teeples is not a member of the city council’s law enforcement committee. At the Jan.22 council meeting, Teeples voted in favor of a recommendation to hire Cole Jackson as a patrol officer.
Teeples was appointed to the council to fill a vacancy in September 1992. He was elected to the council in 1993 and has served continuously since then. In recent years, three of his grandchildren have been charged in Greene County on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to possession of marijuana.
Extortion is a cladd D felony punishable by up to five years in prison. In Iowa, a person convicted of a felony is not eligible to serve on a city council.
Teeples did not return a telephone request from GCNO for a comment.
*A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.