Charges against officer growing

Statutory rape, bribery, contraband, more added in one day

By Matt Lakin

Steve Robert Gutt must not have paid attention in training.

The former part-time Loudon police officer lost his job and landed on the other side of the bars in August when Monroe County authorities charged him and another man in a string of nearly two-dozen burglaries.

The list of charges got even longer Wednesday when investigators alleged Gutt tried to bribe a jailer to let him call his underage girlfriend.

The investigation took just a few hours, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jennifer Bledsoe said.

“We had it all wrapped up by lunch,” she said. “They came to us about 9 this morning, and by 1:30 p.m. we were done.”

Gutt, who’s been in jail since his arrest Aug. 30, wanted a way to talk to his 17-year-old girlfriend, Bledsoe said. He offered Thomas Grande, a Monroe County corrections officer, a pair of boots and some leftover police gear if Grande would let Gutt’s girlfriend sneak a cell phone into the jail, authorities said.

“It was a duty belt, handcuff cases, radio cases, that kind of thing,” Bledsoe said.

Gutt didn’t need the gear anymore.

The Loudon Police Department, where he’d worked since April, fired him the day of his arrest on the burglary charges.

The jailer tipped off his supervisor, Sgt. Tim Pierce, and investigators Bledsoe and Lt. Pat Henry set up a sting. Grande wore a recorder and taped Gutt offering him the bribe, Bledsoe said.

When the girlfriend showed up, investigators photographed her handing the jailer the cell phone and a $20 bill, then arrested her, authorities said.

She admitted to the plot and to having sex with Gutt, Bledsoe said.

The inmate didn’t even get to talk to his girlfriend.

“Gutt never actually laid hands on the phone,” Bledsoe said. “It’s in the evidence room now.”

Gutt faces charges of bribery, attempting to introduce contraband, conspiracy to introduce contraband, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and five counts of statutory rape. That’s on top of the felony theft and 23 aggravated burglary charges he already faced.

“He’s looking at a significant amount of jail time,” Bledsoe said. “This is the first occasion I can remember of somebody trying to bribe a jailer here.”

The girl faces charges as a juvenile. Authorities didn’t give her name because of her age.

She’s been turned over to her mother, Bledsoe said.

Loudon police have said they never had any problems with Gutt, who passed a background check and polygraph to get his job and had completed 120 hours of training.

His initial arrest came after an informant’s tip on the burglaries.

He remained in jail Wednesday night with bond set at $226,000.