Candidate faces identity theft charge involving state representative

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) - It's not often that a candidate gets into trouble before an election, but that's what's happening in the race for a seat in the Tennessee House.

A grand jury has indicted Democratic candidate Kristopher Gore. He's running for a seat in the 43rd District, which includes Warren County.

It started when the district attorney called the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to start an investigation after a complaint that Gore had allegedly written bad checks. Some of the checks were reportedly written to Custom Vinyl Signs in McMinnville.

Gore was accused of writing bad checks to pay for campaign signs. Hundreds of his campaign signs sit in a little warehouse.

Custom Vinyl Signs Graphic Designer Rob Nunley said Gore owes the shop thousands of dollars.

"I've talked to a couple of other local business owners that said if they had to take a hit like this they'd probably have to shut the door,” said Nunley.

He said Gore wrote several checks that bounced. The TBI investigation began in May.

It resulted in an indictment returned by a Warren County grand jury in June. The indictment charged Gore theft, writing bad checks, forgery and identity theft.

He's also accused of stealing the identity of Livingston Democratic Representative John Mark Windle. Windle said Gore worked part time for him in his Livingston office in either 2008 or 2009.

"I'm really sorry for his wife and children, and I hope he gets the treatment he needs for these types of issues. I hope he gets the treatment he needs,” said Rep. Windle.

Windle said he was forced to freeze his bank accounts. Now, the former prosecutor knows what it's like to be the victim of identity theft.

"I've not seen the facts, so I don't know the situation with this young man, but it has caused considerable problems for myself and I'm sure others also,” he said.

It has caused hard ship at the sign shop. Nunley said it hurts.

"You know we're a small town business and we deal with a lot of other small town businesses, and you want to feel like you can trust people. Sure pay for it when you can pick it up. Now, you have trouble trusting anybody,” he said.

After the indictment, Gore surrendered at the Warren County Jail. He was released after he posted a $55,000 bond.

Gore has suspended his campaign. He issued an apology on his Facebook page, reading in part:

"To those involved I deeply apologize for the hardship I put you in financially. I have been and am currently working towards making restitution to all who were involved. To my supporters I sincerely apologize for letting you down and for losing the trust you had in me. And to my family I apologize profusely for my embarrassing behavior and the pain I caused because of it.”


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