Publicist-to-the-stars cops a plea

After more than a year of courtroom delays, the forgery case against publicist-to-the-stars and chicken farmer Tommy Lightfoot Garrett came to an end on Friday, April 18 in Buckingham County Court with more of a whimper than a bang.

Garrett, who had been facing 15 felony counts of forging and uttering, pled guilty to just one reduced charge–- entering the property of another with the intention of damaging it, a class-one misdemeanor. He was given a 12-month suspended jail sentence, two years unsupervised probation, and was ordered to pay his victim, David Kimbell, $3,500 restitution.

The plea deal, announced in court on Friday, kept court-watchers from hearing what promised to be riveting testimony detailing the allegations behind the charges–- that over the course of at least 18 months in 2004 and 2005, Garrett (pictured left last year in February outside the Buckingham Courthouse) forged checks he'd stolen from Kimbell, whom he'd befriended several months before Kimbell's grandmother died in November 2002.

Kimbell (pictured right in the blue shirt with funeral home owner Charles Colbert) says both he and Garrett attended St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Buckingham County and that early in the friendship he was impressed by Garrett's Hollywood connections (among the 70 clients on Garrett's website for his publicity firm, Icons PR, are Tab Hunter, Glenn Ford, and Ruta Lee) and grateful that Garrett had offered to help him sell a screenplay he'd written.

"I'm a trusting person," says Kimbell, explaining he had no reason to doubt Garrett's celebrity connections or his honesty. Within months, however, he had granted Garrett "carte blanche" access to the New Canton home he shared with his dying grandmother. He had also, he later found out, afforded him access to the balance transfer checks routinely sent by credit card companies.

Garrett, whose press releases talk of multiple assistants and whose website claims offices in Manhattan, Chicago, and Beverly Hills–- with two more opening in D.C. and London–- has long maintained his innocence of the forgery charges. His first attorney, Dana Slater, whom he later replaced with James Ghee, called the allegations "false" and "outrageous." Garrett, Slater said, was "trying to help" Kimbell, who she claimed was having trouble taking care of himself.

In fact, there is some record of Garrett's interest in Kimbell's welfare. In 2005 Garrett went to the Buckingham magistrate's office to ask that Kimbell be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility. Kimbell says–- and shows documents to confirm–- that he was quickly released after psychiatrists could find no basis for a commitment.

"He was trying," Kimbell says, "to project this whole thing that I was incompetent."

Kimbell's not the only person to have a legal run-in with Garrett, who first gained media attention in 1995 thanks to a $930,000 lawsuit he filed against the owner of the Bremo Bluff funeral home. In that suit, Garrett alleged that Charles Colbert had reneged on a promissory note, had falsely accused him of stealing, and had inflicted intentional emotional distress by calling him a racial epithet and–- as if the rest weren't bad enough–- for allegedly taking indecent liberties with corpses.

A jury didn't buy the necrophilia portion of Garrett's claim, but did award him $41,000, according to archived articles in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Colbert counter-sued and settled out of court with Garrett and several media outlets for an undisclosed sum.

Both Colbert and Kimbell say they would like to have seen the original forgery charges stick, but Kimbell says he's relieved the legal ordeal is over and that there has been a conviction–- even if only for a misdemeanor. "He's a convicted criminal," says Kimbell. "He's not a felon, but he's a criminal."

Buckingham County Commonwealth's Attorney E.M. Wright declined comment on the case or his decision to offer the deal.

Following his guilty plea, Garrett left the courthouse accompanied by Ghee, his Farmville-based attorney. Dressed in a black suit, he remained silent as Ghee, citing the reduction of charges from 15 felonies to one misdemeanor and the removal of any mention of forgery, pronounced his client "vindicated."

8 comments

I am constantly amazed by the Hook's ability to twist the facts in it's relentless attack on Mr Garrett. What a nasty little place we live in. Three different reporters from the one paper all using the same lines with the same contempt. Is the Editor on vacation or something? My old editor would never have allowed this kind of bullying and hatred to persist. It brings the whole paper into disrepute. It really does show the inner character of the reporters though. And they surely must have a lot of time to kill. It's a pity the same errors keep getting reported.
Colbert was a bit silly repeating the things that cost him so much last time around too. Good luck with that.

The end?

I don't think so.

Sue,

Could you detail the errors that keep getting reported? We'd be happy to correct any factual inaccuracies.

Best,

Courteney Stuart

For a start, that Senior Magazine edition DOES exist and the editor of that magazine even left a comment for Lisa Provence. I have seen that edition with my own eyes. I can't understand why you have had so much trouble locating it and before you ask, no, I am not going to make it easy for you.

They just reported that he is a CRIMINAL. Is that a lie too?

If Mr Garret really wanted to vindicate himself he would proudly show a neutral party his corporate papers to prove his claims about how succesful he is.

If someone accused me of coming up short I would be more than happy to "whip it out" and settle the matter once and for all.

John Holmes? Really, you need to grow up.
He died of AIDS didn't he?
Anyway, the paper reported that Kimbell is calling Mr Garrett a criminal. Define 'criminal'. Mr Garrett only ever tried to save Kimbell from himself whether he realizes it or not due to his unfortunate medical condition. A lot of people know that as fact. If Kimbell sees being helped as a crime then nothing will change that. Colbert is along for the ride because of sour grapes. He's full of bluff and bluster but the truth will win out and that's what we are all wanting. Nothing but the truth. There's at least another player in this who is keeping skillfully out of sight. Not quite skillful enough though.

Define criminal?

Hows about "someone who pleads guilty to the commision of a crime"?

HA HAA!

I'm sorry, but some of you people have no clue whatsoever how the criminal justice system operates on a daily basis. Just because a person enters into and agrees to a plea agreement does not mean necessarily mean they were guilty of anything in each and every case. In Garrett's case he had a choice to either, 1- accept the plea agreement on one trespass charge with very limited consequences, or 2- go to a felony trial on 15 felonies and face some serious prison time if convicted. In this particular case the commonwealth made the plea agreement look pretty attractive, don't ya think? Why did the commonwealth makde this particular plea agreement look so attractive? Perhaps the the commonwealth felt they didn't have enough evidence to convict Garrett on any of the felonies? Perhaps Garrett felt this was too good of an offer to pass on?

The only thing this plea agreement accomplished is saving the Commonwealth of Virginia a lot of time and money in convictions and appeals. If they didn't have the time, money or evidence to convict Garrett, why pile on 15 felonies in the first place? Isn't this a miscarriage of justice in itself?

Damn right entering into a plea agreement makes Garrett look guilty. But was he? We'll never know now. And I don't think anybody can blame Garrett for accepting such a beautiful deal with the commonwealth, whether he was guilty or not.