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Former Unicoi official facing charges

By Richard Rourk

A former Town of Unicoi official has been indicted on charges of falsifying election documents following an investigation by the Sullivan County District Attorney’s office.

Former Town of Unicoi Vice Mayor Doug Hopson was charged with three counts of false entries on official registration on election documents, according to a Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department report. 

Hopson turned himself in and immediately posted a $5,000 bond on Thursday, Jan. 14.

The charges, which stem from an investigation started in September, center on Hopson’s place of residence. A formal complaint was made by a concerned citizen that calls into question whether Hopson is legally a resident of the Town of Unicoi.

According to Hopson, who spoke with The Erwin Record following his release, he has always maintained a residence in Unicoi.

“It’s always been my intention to remain in Unicoi,” Hopson said.

This isn’t the first time that Hopson’s residence has been called into question. A citizen complaint was filed in 2012. 

Hopson responded to both complaints with the claim that he lives in Unicoi on Hopson Lane, but maintains a dwelling on Quail Run in Erwin because he has been attempting to renovate and sell the house in Erwin. 

According to Hopson, he was cleared of wrongdoing before and this is a conspiracy by a small group of individuals to take down the town.

“This is a conspiracy perpetrated by a small group in Unicoi,” Hopson said. “I’ve done nothing wrong. This is low down. I took paperwork out for re-election but never returned it. When I was on the board, we had this town in the best shape it’s been in. This group is focused on destroying it.”

Hopson acknowledged that he will fight these charges.

“I am in the process of hiring a lawyer and this will take months to resolve,” Hopson said. “This is going to be costly but I’m going to fight it.”

According to Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Josh Rose, the investigation into the allegations are complete and Hopson is scheduled to appear at the Unicoi County Courthouse in February.

“This case is now in the court system,” Rose said. “Hopson is scheduled for arraignment on Feb. 23 at 9 a.m. in the Unicoi County Courthouse.

The Erwin Record will provide updates as they become available.