Memphis is buzzing about a reported plot to lure the mayor into an encounter with a prostitute that would be videotaped and used to destroy him politically. Here's the first story, in which the stripper told of being offered a free apartment and other perks to go undercover with Mayor Willie Herenton. Additionally, an Arkansas angle arises in the name of a Memphis car dealer who is a member of a family with car dealerships in Arkansas as well:
One offer, she said, came from car dealer Russell Gwatney, who offered to give her a new Chevy Tahoe. Smith's account caused Herenton to summon Gwatney, an old political supporter, to his City Hall office.
"I got a call from Willie Herenton wanting me to come down to his office. He said, 'Russell you're going to be named in a lawsuit,' " Gwatney told a reporter Wednesday. Gwatney said he told the mayor he knew of no plot but confirmed that Fields and Smith had come to him about two months ago inquiring about a car.
"She came in our dealership one time, and Rich Fields came in there and told me that he needed to buy a car for the girl," Gwatney said. "And he told me that people were going to pay for the car, but they wanted to me to basically front all the money on the car."
Gwatney said he refused.
He told the newspaper Fields was interested in getting Smith a small SUV and assured the car dealer he would be paid back.
"They wanted me to front the money to pay for the car so they could pay me back over time. I got real uninterested real quick.''
"I don't know who the business people were, don't even know."