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Tennessee Secretary of State Attempts Suicide

December 12, 1989

LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) _ Tennessee Secretary of State Gentry Crowell, whose office is at the center of a scandal over charity bingo, shot himself in the mouth today in a suicide attempt, authorities said.

Crowell, 57, was in stable condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where he was taken for surgery to remove a bullet in his brain, authorities said.

″Depression is a terrible thing. I didn’t realize that Gentry had anything bothering him to that extent,″ said House Speaker Ed Murray.

Crowell said last month, when he appeared in Memphis before a grand jury investigating bingo corruption, that federal investigators had assured him they were not seeking an indictment against him.

Capt. Mike Johnson of the Wilson County Emergency Medical Service said Crowell was found on his front porch by his son, a .38-caliber pistol nearby. Police said Crowell’s son and wife were the only other people at home.

The Internal Revenue Service, FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in 1986 began an investigation of alleged bribery and skimming of profits following reports that bingo operators were paying state officials to ignore violations of laws regulating the industry.

Twenty-two people have been indicted or pleaded guilty in Tennessee this year as a result of the investigation.

All Tennessee bingo licenses were suspended March 9 after the state Supreme Court ruled the games are illegal under the Tennessee Constitution.

Crowell has testified twice before federal grand juries investigating alleged bingo corruption.

He has not been implicated in the scandal, but one former employee is serving a prison term in connection with the investigation and another was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.

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