Butturinis receive diversion
All charges to be dropped in 10 months, court says
Adria Amos - Farragutpress.com Thu, Aug, 2, 2007

A couple accused of providing alcohol to minors in their Loudon County home, recently reached an agreement with Loudon County authorities.

Jack and Katharine Butturini were charged with contributing to the deliquency of a minor and providing an alcoholic beverage to a minor after a party held in their Loudon County home following Farragut High School’s prom May 6.

“The Loudon County district attorney [Russell Johnson] decided not to prosecute us and offered an informal diversion. We haven’t signed anything; we didn’t plead guilty or innocent,” Jack Butturini said. “Honestly they had no evidence, because there was nothing that we contributed to. The kids that were cited all said that we didn’t provide any alcohol.”

He added all charges will be dropped June 1, 2008, if the couple avoids trouble with the law for the next 10 months.

“Actually there’s not really anything we’ve given our word to do. It’s all informal, but we’re not supposed to provide alcohol to minors, which nobody is supposed to provide alcohol to minors,” he said. “Informally I have become the neighborhood watch person. The police gave me their phone numbers, because there’s been other parties in our neighborhood.”

Butturini said he’s supposed to call police officers if a neighbor has a party that’s getting out of hand.

“I’ve got two Sheriff’s deputies’ phone numbers, and they told me to call them. I don’t know how comfortable I am with that, but if that’s what needs to be done.”

The repercussions of another criminal incident are not as stiff in an informal diversion, he said.

“We were not going to accept a plea. This is an informal agreement between us and Loudon County. I guess if we were to do something wrong they could reopen the case. That’s what would happen. It wouldn’t mean that we were guilty of what they charged us with, they could just reopen the case,” he added. “It’s very different from what the kids agreed to. We didn’t have to pay any fines; we didn’t have to pay court costs. We don’t have to do any community service, nothing like that. There is no [conviction] on my record.”

There are two reasons, he said, that they agreed to informal diversion.

“We took the diversion simply because this could drag on for a long time, and attorney fees are going to mount up. It has without a doubt hurt my business. It’s better to put it behind us. By no means did we enter any type of guilty plea; we’ve been innocent the whole time,” he added. “We’ve made a lot of changes in our life and our lifestyle. Of course we’re being very careful about who comes on our property. Our kids are not allowed to have more than four friends with them. Music has to be turned down below a little mark on the stereo by 11 o’clock so we don’t disturb the neighbors.”

From here he plans to pursue legal action against those Loudon County Sheriff’s Officers who, according to Butturini, lied about evidence in the case, as well as any media who reported the lies.

“The Sheriff’s Office has really pursued this. They have been very enthusiastic about it, but the D-A’s office has not been very enthusiastic about it. That’s caused some tension, and we’ll be addressing that in the future,” he said.

Calls to the Russell Johnson, Loudon County ninth district attorney, were not returned as of print time.