All Charges Dropped Against NonProfit CEO Bennett

Not only did Richard Bennett work within the mayor’s highly publicized Violence Reduction Initiative program, he runs a non-profit called A Better Tomorrow which teaches life skills to at-risk children in Chattanooga.

His middle-of-the-night, East Lake arrest last year sent shock waves through the local government and community.

And a year later almost to the day, all charges have been dropped.

"The case is dismissed," said his attorney Bill Speek. "All the charges against him have been thrown out. They found him not guilty and I’m happy for him and his family."

Charges are dropped but picking up the pieces and moving on may be another story.

"They really really made it sound bad in the newspaper," said Larry Garner who is the landlord of his nonprofit’s office. "I mean they barbecued him."

Bennett’s nonprofit showed so much promise, it beat out other groups to gain a prominent role in the mayor’s Violence Reduction Initiative.

But last June, Bennett was arrested in a van near East Lake, pulled over because reports say he was driving eratically.

The arrest report says he was found with marijuana, an open container of tequila, and hydrocodone pills with unzipped pants and a woman who claims Bennett owed her money.

It took a full year, but one by one, the multiple charges against him were dropped.

"Even though he’s acquitted today, he lost a lot so for him it’s vindication but he’s still rebuilding his life because he spent a year before he could get his side of the story out," said Speek. "Once the court heard his side of the story, the court dismissed his case."

Even with last year’s arrest, Bennett hasn’t stopped his nonprofit work.

"Since the date of his arrest til today, he has continued to work with at risk youth," said Speek.

But there is no question, the events and accusations will make picking up and moving on tough work.

"They ruined him just about," said Garner. "The financial loss he’s taken and the mental loss. It’s just amazing."

"The Mayor’s office elected to cut ties with him that obviously put his Better Tomorrow 501 3 C company into a different trajectory," said Speek.

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