Former Tennessee Police Chief Indicted on Multiple Charges

After Celeste Murphy resigned as chief of the Chattanooga Police Department, she was charged with 17 felonies and misdemeanors. 

Special agents began investigating her residence in April.  Subsequently, the indictment was returned by a Hamilton County Grand Jury, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). Murphy faced a myriad of charges, from misconduct to fraud.

Allegations that Murphy did not reside in Chattanooga prompted an inquiry that began in March. According to the TBI, agents found that Murphy intentionally filled out multiple government forms with fraudulent information in order to establish residence in Chattanooga, even though she swore to the truth while signing them. 

Former Atlanta Police Department chief and current Chattanooga mayor Tim Kelly appointed Murphy to the position in 2022. She has a July 12 court appearance scheduled with Hamilton County Criminal Court following her release on an aggregate bail of $19,000. An attorney mentioned in Murphy’s resignation letter was not reachable for comment at the time of this writing.

According to an email Murphy sent to police department employees, the focus of the TBI investigation was her place of residence. Her residence in Tennessee was mandated under Chattanooga’s charter and contract. That inquiry set the ball in motion.

Six charges of misconduct, three charges of perjury and forgery, three charges of false entries on governmental documents, one case of false entry on election documents, and one offense of unlawful voter registration have been filed against her.

On Wednesday, Murphy resigned, and a search committee will begin considering potential successors. Kelly accepted the resignation. In addition to her $177,700 base salary, Murphy will get three months’ severance compensation, totaling around $44,400, as stated in her resignation letter. As per her contract, she chose not to participate in the city’s pension system for firefighters and police officers.