Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd entered a plea of not guilty to a single charge of extortion, Friday, during an arraignment in Hamilton County Criminal Court.
Criminal Court Judge Andrew Freiberg of Bradley County said he will hear a motion to dismiss the charges on June 5.
Extortion is a Class D Felony and carries a penalty of two to four years in prison.
The extortion charge stems from recorded telephone conversations Boyd had in February with East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert. Lambert was challenging Boyd, a two term incumbent on the commission, for the Republican nomination for District 8.
Lambert claimed that during the conversations Boyd threatened him with damaging information that would be released by his campaign team during the course of the election. Lambert took the recordings to the Hamilton County District Attorney, who requested the TBI launch an investigation. The DA presented the results of the investigation to a grand jury which indicted Boyd on a charge of extortion in April, the day before early voting began.
Boyd’s attorney, Lee Davis, filed a 14-page motion to dismiss the charges on Thursday. In his motion Davis contends that Boyd’s conversations with Lambert were politically protected speech. Davis also referenced that the “damaging information” that Boyd was referring to was a matter of public record.