A former spokeswoman for the state's TennCare program who resigned amid allegations that she used a work computer to hack into e-mail accounts during the course of an ugly child custody battle, has surrendered to police.
Marilyn Wilson, was taken into custody just two days after a warrant was issued Dec. 16 for her arrest on charges of wiretapping, according to Metro Police spokesperson Kristin Mumford.
According to the indictment, Wilson is charged with “intentionally or knowingly intercept, or endeavor to intercept” “wire, oral or electronic communication.” She is currently out on bail.
The former state employee's arrest is the latest round in a tangled divorce, and subsequent custody battle that has played out between Wilson's husband, Jerry, and his ex-wife Regina Baines since their separation in 2004. The center of the ongoing dispute is the custody of Regina and Jerry's two children — a boy and girl, both minors.
According to reports, Jerry Wilson and Baines were initially awarded joint custody until a Georgia court awarded permanent custody to the father in a January 2008 decision. Baines retained visitation rights.
Eight days later, Wilson submitted a request for a restraining order against Baines. As evidence, the father attached three profanity-laden and angry e-mails — dated between May 28 and June 4, 2007 — purportedly sent to Wilson from Baines' new husband, Allen.
But according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Allen and Regina Baines, the e-mails attached to the original petition for a restraining order were fakes concocted by the Wilsons in an attempt to discredit them. The mother charges that the Wilsons gained access to her private electronic communication accounts by way of a device commonly referred to as a 'keylogger'” or software that captures passwords and account information from a computer.
It was then that the Baines began to suspect their e-mail accounts had been hacked, according to court documents. In the course of the hearings over the restraining order petition, Regina Baines attempted to convince her children's therapist that the e-mails were forged, but she did not believe Baines, according to the mother's suit, and as a result recommended the mother only be allowed “supervised visitation” with the children.
The court eventually issued the restraining order.
But Allen and Regina Baines allege in their court filings that the Wilsons had in fact concocted the e-mails in order to tip the court's decision in their favor. According to the suit, between Aug. 28 and Sept. 27, 2008, the Wilsons accessed the Baines' accounts at least five times, from various IP addresses, including one that matched a computer owned by the State of Tennessee and is housed in the Office of Information Resources at the Department of Finance and Administration — a computer Marilyn Wilson, as an employee, allegedly could access.
When these accusations came to light, Marilyn Wilson was put on discretionary leave with pay “due to the initiation of an investigation regarding possible misuse of state property” on Oct. 9, 2008, according to a memorandum from Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz Jr. and Bureau of TennCare Deputy Commissioner Darin J. Gordon.
She resigned from her position on Oct. 15, 2008.
Two days later, Marilyn Wilson was called to the witness stand in a court hearing for Regina Baines' motion to dissolve the restraining order. Attorneys for the mother asked Wilson whether she assisted in the “preparation” of the e-mails attached to the original restraining order petition; Wilson invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. When asked whether she produced the document on a “State of Tennessee-owned computer,” she again invoked the Fifth Amendment.
When contacted for comment on whether or not the current charges against Wilson stemmed from the initial internal TennCare investigation, spokesperson Carol Fite responded with the following statement: “An external entity initially contacted the state with the accusation of inappropriate computer usage by Mrs. Wilson. TennCare did not have the capability to confirm or deny the claim, and before the internal investigation was completed, the employee had resigned.”
Fite added any materials collected by the investigation were eventually handed over to the Attorney General's office. Representatives from that office declined to comment and directed inquiries to the Davidson County District Attorney's office, which also declined to elaborate on the circumstances of the charges.
Wilson's criminal attorney, Jonathan P. Farmer, of Jones Hawkins & Farmer, said his client intends to plead not guilty to the charge.
“We look forward to all the facts coming out,” he said.
Wilson is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 13.