Graveyard robber gets eight years
by:â€ˆMary Jo Denton,
An Overton County man accused of numerous thefts and burglaries, including stealing brass vases off graves, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Michael Fulton, 23, of School Mountain Road, Livingston and formerly of Pickett County, recently went before Judge Leon Burns in Overton County Criminal Court and pleaded guilty to numerous counts of burglary and theft, as well as to TennCare fraud, most of the crimes occurring last year.
Among the many burglaries Fulton had been charged with or linked to by then-Overton Sheriff's Detective Greg Etheredge were these:
*Theft of items off graves at Overton County Memorial Gardens in April 2008.
*Theft of items off graves at Wirmingham Cemetery between April and June of 2008.
*Theft of items off graves at Campground Cemetery between April and June of 2008.
*Burglary of the Alpine Fire Department sometime between January and April, 2008.
*Burglary of Red Rock Tavern in January 2008.
*Theft of copper wiring from Livingston Limestone in March 2008.
Fulton also had been charged with fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs using TennCare benefits to which he was not entitled.
In all, the Overton grand jury had issued 16 indictments against Fulton.
The plea arrangement worked out earlier this week by his attorney, Bruce Myers, and Assistant District Attorney Owen Burnett resulted in the following:
He pleaded guilty to four counts of theft over $1,000, guilty to nine burglaries, guilty to two counts of TennCare fraud, and guilty to two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
Though he was sentenced on each count, some of the sentences were set to run at the same time, and the final result was a total of eight years to actually serve in prison.
Etheredge, who is now police chief in Livingston, said he was pleased with the outcome of the cases.
"It's one thing to steal old junk, but when it comes to going into cemeteries and stealing off the graves, that crosses the line," Etheredge said.
Burnett said he was pleased with the settlement of the cases and the eight year sentence for Fulton.
"I want to thank Sheriff W.B. Melton's department and all of his officers for the hard work they put in on these cases. Chief Etheredge and Detective Jacob Boswell did excellent work, and so did Lee Richards, who was with the Sheriff's Department at the time. And I want to thank State Inspector General Deborah Faulkner and Investigator Rodney Morton for their investigation of the TennCare violations."