Monday, February 15, 2021

Former Davidson County Sheriff Hank Hillin, RIP

Hank Hillin
by Rod Williams - Former Davidson County Sheriff Hank Hillin has passed away, at the age of 90 years old.  He served as Davidson County Sheriff from 1990-1994.  

Hank Hillin beat incumbent sheriff Fate Thomas to win that office. Thomas had served as sheriff for 17 years and was extremely powerful but he was a crook and eventually his criminal activity caught up with him and the voters chose Hillin over Thomas.  Thomas later pleaded guilty to mail fraud, theft of government property and tax conspiracy in federal court. He spent four years in federal prison and was fined $80,000. 

Fate Thomas was an old-style corrupt party boss politician.  No one could get elected to political office in Nashville at that time without the support or at least the indulgence of Fate Thomas. Even candidates for federal office sought his support.  He could deliver Davidson County and had influence beyond the county.  He  was loved by many, however, as corrupt politicians often are, because his political machine provided lots of constituent services and helped those in need.  Fate's barbeque service, with the labor provided by jail inmates, was on hand for many a fund raisers for everything from charities and school fund raisers to politicians he was supporting for office.  In his white suits and white hat and large physical presence he was a real life copy of Boss Hogg from Dukes of Hazard. This was the same era that also saw the corruption and embarrassment of Bill Boner as mayor. 

When Hank Hillin challenged Fate Thomas for office, he was a breath of fresh air.  He brought professionalism and respect to the office of Sheriff.  He was retired from the FBI with 27 years of service and was the primary FBI investigator that brought down the corrupt Blanton administration. 

To read the WSMV obituary of Hank Hillin follow this link

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