Former Tennessee State Medical Examiner Indicted on Marijuana Charges

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

I first wrote about Bruce Levy’s bizarre arrest last March. Levy headed up the Nashville firm that took over all of Mississippi’s autopsies after the state effectively fired Steven Hayne in 2008. Last spring, the night before the Mississippi legislature was to vote on a bill that stopped an attempt by some Mississippi counties to rehire Hayne, Levy was arrested in a pot sting conducted by Mississippi police.

This week, Levy was indicted by a grand jury. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Like the Roger Wiener case, this story just doesn’t smell right. The allegation is that Levy purchased a big box of pot and had it FedExed to the hotel he was staying at while he was doing some autopsies in Jackson. I guess that would make some sense if Levy were a (not particularly bright) casual pot smoker and needed a fix. But the police also allege that in addition to the FedEx box, Levy had pot stashed all over his room. If he was stealing drugs off the bodies he autopsied and selling them (as suggested in the linked article), why would he buy another big package of pot while he was staying in Jackson? And why in the world would a doctor who owns his own autopsy firm be engaged in low level pot distribution in the first place?

I should say that at this point I have zero evidence that this was a set-up. And it’s worth noting that the policy agency that conducted the sting reports to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, which is currently headed up by Steve Simpson. Simpson is the one who basically fired Hayne, who made the contract with Levy’s firm, and he actively opposed the bill to bring Hayne back that the legislature was scheduled to vote on the day after Levy’s arrest. So it’s entirely possible that Levy was just a really dumb, really careless (but quite successful) doctor who for whatever reason also dealt marijuana on the side. But the timing of his arrest is incredibly coincidental, and the other details we know so far are . . . . really, really strange.

As I’ve covered this Hayne stuff it has occurred to me that HBO could make a pretty wicked dark comedy series about the autopsy/medical examiner business the south. Not only would they not need to change anything from what actually goes on to make the show more interesting, they’d probably need to leave some real-life events out to make it more believable.

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17 Responses to “Former Tennessee State Medical Examiner Indicted on Marijuana Charges”

  1. #1 |  Chance | 

    Somewhat off topic, but how often do grand juries decline to indict? I’m always hearing what a vital safeguard they are, but then I hear sayings like “prosecutors can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich,” so which is it? It the latter, maybe we should just get rid of the whole step as a sham.

  2. #2 |  SJE | 

    Delivering large boxes of drugs seem to be a law enforcement speciality. Just ask Cheye Calvo

  3. #3 |  Nick42 | 

    @ Chance

    It depends. In Georgia, elected officials and police officers are allowed to make a statement to the grand jury. So I would imagine those in that protected class are indicted a good bit less frequently, but I don’t have any numbers hand to prove it.

    http://www.houstonda.org/grand-jury-handbook/6.html

  4. #4 |  Josh | 

    I feel like you are attempting a super level with your Six Feet Under reference.

  5. #5 |  Ron | 

    Grand juries will indict anything from a ham sandwich and above, but every once in a fgreat while will decline to indict innocent-looking potted plants.

  6. #6 |  Marty | 

    ‘I should say that at this point I have zero evidence that this was a set-up. ‘

    except this involves Mississippi, Hayne, etc…

    Does Levy have an extensive history of corruption?

  7. #7 |  Burdell | 

    @Chance:

    For what it’s worth, the Grand Jury didn’t indict the officers who killed Jonathan Ayres.

    http://www.thenortheastgeorgian.com/articles/2009/12/22/news/top_stories/01topstory.txt

  8. #8 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    @Ron-
    So that’s why Brendan Sullivan said “I’m not a potted plant. I’m here as the lawyer. That’s my job.” …oh, wait..no.

  9. #9 |  Bob | 

    These were not “Big packages of pot” vis a vis the Cheye Calvo case (I think that one was 32 pounds of marijuana)

    The package in question here was just under an ounce. That’s a baggie full.

    And, as you’ll recall, Simpson did not hesitate to cancel the contract with Levy’s firm.

    http://www.newschannel9.com/articles/agents-989668-drug-medical.html

    The circumstances of the discovery of the less than one ounce of pot are suspicious: “a routine search of packages and cargo led Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents to the arrest of Dr. Bruce Levy Tuesday.”

    Let me get this straight. Mississippi routinely searches all incoming packages for pot? Where the hell do they get the manpower for this?

    And of course, it’s certainly a coincidence that the contract was up in June anyway, and the bidding process had already begun.

    According to Shelby County, “Forensic Medical” was hired in 2006 to handle management services for our regional forensic center. Fox 13 tried contacting Shelby County Medical Examiner, Doctor Karen Chancellor, but she had no comment.

    http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/dpp/news/local/031710-apx-tn-medical-examiner-arrested-in-drug-case

    The county says “Forensic Medical’s” contract is up in June and they opened the bidding process for new contracts this past Monday, purely out of coincidence.

    No one from the company headquarters in Nashville has commented or issued a statement on Levy’s arrest as of yet.

    The Mississippi Department of Public Safety says Levy is also the CEO of “Global Forensics” and one of 6 doctors under contract for the Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Office. Commissioner Stephen Simpson has suspended Levy’s privileges within the state and notified “Global Forensics” its contract will be terminated.

    In Mississippi, this small amount of pot is just a misdemeanor, with summons only, no arrest.

    This whole thing smacks of set up.

  10. #10 |  Cynical in CA | 

    I don’t know any doctors who smoke pot, let alone as carelessly as Levy is alleged to.

    The law of parsimony tells me that someone threatened to “push a button” on Steve Simpson. He caved under the death threat and railroaded Levy.

    State to peons: don’t fuck with the State.

  11. #11 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    #10 Cynical – “I don’t know any doctors who smoke pot, let alone as carelessly as Levy is alleged to.”

    I actually know 3 that do including a surgeon…but still not carelessly and only in the privacy of their own home or that of a trusted friend. And none of them would be dealing it. Think about it…pot is a large volume, low profit illegal drug when compared to other drugs. Shit…if you’re a Doctor, selling scripts would be the way to go if you were trying to make some $$$ on the side. No…selling pot (and having it freaking MAILED to you) would be way too risky. I would hope most MD’s are smarter than that.

    Something is fishy…or else the guy’s too stupid to have an MD degree and license in the first place.

  12. #12 |  Z | 

    I advise people with names like Levy and Weiner to steer clear of the C.S.A. and bordering states except Memphis, Chapel Hill, Miami and Atlanta.

  13. #13 |  Lee | 

    This whole thing is crazy. Either the entire thing is a setup, or Levy is a casual pot smoker who was suspected of having pot, but they had no evidence. So they sent him a package of weed to establish probable cause and found whatever little bit of pot he had on him.

  14. #14 |  BrentM | 

    The next time a backwards southern state wants to succeed from the union. Let them. Mississippi wouldn’t survive without out all that pork Trent Lott got for them.

  15. #15 |  Saint Zero | 

    I live in Mississippi, and I have a hard time believing anyone’s this intelligent to set up a sting like this. Government is particularly stupid in some areas.

  16. #16 |  divadab | 

    I know someone personally who had their lives ruined by Mississipi police for the crime of being from out of state and living in his RV. They found no drugs, no infractions, but put him away for 30 days for a broken taillight. When he got out his RV was trashed and all his carpenter’s tools stolen.

    Message? Stay the heck away from Mississippi. Same message given to Dr. Levy.

    This is an easy one to follow – why would you want to go to that backwards sh-thole anyway? No offense to Saint Zero, or any others who put up with this crap every day. The South will rise again despite corrupt authoritarian cracker “justice” just one step removed from the lynch mob.

  17. #17 |  Theresa Tibbs | 

    I’m a Private Investigator in TN that has an extreme wonderment about how the state of TN has virtually allowed Levy to disappear from the public eye. I periodically look to find out something else about his charges. I’m working a case (since 06) that will involve the dasterdly dirty politicians of the state of TN. If I remember right, the pkg from Fed Ex was from NY and that would involve the word “interstate drug trafficking.” Not to mention is he had drugs on him from TBI evidence room. Was it a set-up? Is he a pigeon to get to someone higher up the ladder? If you have any inklings as to what he’s been up to as far as employment, I would be interested to know. This case certainly brings back our old boy Bufford Pusser and the connections of the southern states again “state line mob.”

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