Arrest of Burglary Suspects and DUI Arrest Earns Officer Award

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Arrest of Burglary Suspects and DUI Arrest Earns Officer Award

Posted: 02/02/2007
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Police Chief Sterling Owen named Lieutenant Gene Sasscer the Officer of the Month for November. Lt. Sasscer has been with the department since November 1979.

Chief Owen said that on October 26, 2006 at approximately 4:16 a.m., Lt. Sasscer responded to a suspected vehicle burglary in progress at an apartment complex on McNabb Street. When Lt. Sasscer arrived on the scene he located two suspects attempting to change a tire on a Ford Thunderbird that was discovered to be a stolen vehicle. The driver of the vehicle, 18-year-old Joel Vargas, has an extensive history of burglaries that have been committed throughout the city. The 16-year-old male passenger was in state's custody.

A search of the stolen vehicle revealed numerous stolen credit cards and several car stereos that had been stolen from multiple vehicles. Both suspects were also in possession of Hydrocodone pills as well as burglary tools.

Chief Owen said, "Lt. Sasscer called in an investigator to conduct an interview with the suspects. That interview resulted in a confession from Vargas on several of the vehicle burglaries in addition to the theft of the Ford Thunderbird."

Vargas was charged with eight counts of burglary, one count of theft, simple possession, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Three days later, Lt. Sasscer conducted a traffic stop on a suspected drunk driver. The traffic stop occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m. on Linden Avenue. The driver of the 1998 Dodge Ram van, 32-year-old Eric Gillette, was intoxicated and was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). A search of the suspect produced a plastic bag containing 156 tablets of Ecstasy. A satchel was also discovered in his vehicle that contained $11,210.00 in cash. Gillette has a significant history of illegal drug sales.

Chief Owen said, "Lt. Sasscer's dedication and leadership routinely produces excellence which has the residual effect of inspiring his officers to do the same. Lt. Sasscer has high expectations of his squad, but has an even higher threshold of excellence from his own work product."
Mayor Haslam said, "Lt. Sasscer is consistent in his leadership efforts and we commend him on a job well done."

Lt. Sasscer will receive a signed certificate from the Mayor and Chief along with a free dinner from Ruby Tuesday Restaurant.