sheriffs

Knox County approved for enforcing fed immigration laws through 287(g) program

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has approved Knox County’s participation in the controversial 287(g) program, reports the News Sentinel.

The two bodies signed a memorandum of agreement earlier this month that dictates the Knox County Sheriff’s Office’s responsibilities in training and allowing a certain number of local deputies to be acting ICE agents. It makes Knox County the only jurisdiction in the state participating in this federal program.

The program deputizes local law enforcement officials to act on behalf of and in place of federal immigration authorities in exchange for training and funding.

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Witness tampering added to charges in Monroe County vote buying cases

Witness tampering has been added to the list of  federal charges against Brian “Wormy” Hodge, who is accused of buying votes to help Randy White get elected Monroe County sheriff in 2014, reports the News Sentinel.

 Hodge was initially indicted in February on charges he recruited now-confessed chronic vote buyer Betty Jane Best to funnel money he supplied to voters willing to cast their ballots for White and help those voters use the absentee ballot process to do so.

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Sheriff pleads guilty to sex with women inmates, beating man

Fentress County Sheriff Chucky Cravens has pleaded guilty to bribing female inmates for sex and beating a male prisoner, reports the Cookeville Herald-Citizen.

Cravens, 47, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday after an investigation that began barely more than a week before. The official charges were three counts of honest services fraud and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. The charges stem back from July to as recently as March 1.

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County pays $225K to settle another lawsuit involving ousted sheriff

Rutherford County this week paid about  $225,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Tommy Thompson, a former sheriff’s department major who was fired by former Sheriff Robert Arnold, subsequently convicted of corruption charges and ousted from office.

Further from the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal:

The government cut a $224,999.60 check to settle the case Tuesday, County Finance Director Lisa Nolen said.

Thompson joins other former sheriff’s deputies to accept settlements in wrongful termination lawsuits, including a $340,000 award about a year ago to fired Deputy Chief Virgil Gammon.

Thompson and Gammon both said they provided information to a federal grand jury that indicted Arnold on 14 counts accusing the ex-sheriff of illegally profiting off inmates through the sale electronic cigarettes from a JailCigs business, according to their lawsuits. Thompson also spoke to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his lawsuit states.

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TBI accuses man of theft from TN National Guard and sheriff’s office

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

NASHVILLE – An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Army National Guard Joint Force Headquarters has resulted in the arrest of a Linden man on charges of theft and official misconduct.                                                                   

At the initial request of 21st District Attorney General Kim Helper, in August 2015, TBI Special Agents began working with the Army National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in investigating then-Army National Guard Sergeant Dave Pendleton on allegations of theft. At that time, Pendleton was working with the Army National Guard, and was stationed at the National Guard Armory in Perry County.

During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that between July 2014 and August 2015, while serving as a supply sergeant, Pendleton was responsible for the theft of approximately $129,369 worth of government property, including aviation and vehicle fuel, and equipment. The investigation further revealed that while employed as a deputy with the Perry County Sheriff’s Office, Pendleton used his county-issued gas key in July and August 2015 to purchase gas that was used in his private vehicle.

Agents also learned that while employed as a deputy, Pendleton arrested an individual on May 18, 2015, and confiscated a weapon. That weapon was never entered into evidence and was last seen in Pendleton’s possession. Pendleton is no longer an employee of either the Perry County Sheriff’s Office or the Army National Guard.

On Monday, the Perry County Grand Jury returned indictments charging Pendleton (DOB 8/27/1977) with one count of Theft over $60,000 and five counts of Official Misconduct. Pendleton was arrested Tuesday and booked into the Perry County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

Deputy sheriff charged with stealing tobacco

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

NASHVILLE – An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the indictment and arrest of a former Macon County deputy who is charged with stealing tobacco.

At the request of 15th District Attorney General Tommy Thompson, on January 23rd, TBI Special Agents began investigating a theft complaint against then-Macon County Sheriff’s Deputy Troy Griggs. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that on January 17th, Griggs transported four bales of tobacco to a warehouse in Hartsville, to be sold as his own. The following day, the rightful owner of the tobacco reported to the warehouse that the product was his. The investigation revealed that the tobacco, with a value of approximately $5,300, had been stolen by Griggs on January 16th.  Griggs is no longer employed by the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.

On Monday, the Macon County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Griggs (DOB 11/30/1973) with one count of Theft over $2,500. Griggs turned himself in to Agents Friday night. He was booked into the Macon County Jail and was released after posting a $2,500 bond.

Former Rutherford County sheriff’s official pleads guilty to lying about citizenship

Former Rutherford County Sheriff’s Maj. Terry McBurney has pleaded guilty to lying about being a U.S. citizen to become a licensed law officer, reports the Daily News Journal.

McBurney, an immigrant from Ireland who resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 27, joined ex-sheriff Robert Arnold, Arnold’s uncle John Vanderveer and former sheriff’s administration chief Joe Russell in pleading guilty to felonies within the past couple of weeks.

McBurney, 47, has a sealed agreement  with the prosecution, said U.S. District Court  Chief Judge Kevin Sharp, who noted he holds final authority on sentencing.

“I’m not party to your plea agreement,” said Sharp, who scheduled the sentencing hearing to take place at 1:30 p.m. May 12 with another judge presiding after he resigns from the court  April 15.

McBurney pleaded guilty to nine counts with two related to lying and falsifying documents to continue being a law enforcement officer. The other seven charges pertained to wire fraud, so he could be paid for positions he was ineligible to hold because he was not a U.S. Citizen.

Judge Kevin Sharp asked McBurney several questions to ensure the defendant understood the agreement, and was pleading guilty and waiving the right to a jury trial.

“I am,” McBurney said before the judge repeated asking the defendant whether the former major was guilty or not guilty. “Guilty.”

Each of the nine counts includes up to a $250,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, three years of supervised release and the possibility of paying for incarceration costs if he’s able.

McBurney’s unlawful procurement of naturalization count has up to a 10-year sentence, and the charge of making false statements under oath relating to his application for U.S. citizenship has up to a five-year sentence, the judge said. Each of the other seven counts of wire fraud has up to 20-year sentences.

A third guilty plea in Rutherford Country sheriff corruption case

John Vanderveer became the third defendant to plead guilty in the Rutherford County sheriff’s corruption case on Monday, reports the Daily News Journal. Vanderveer is the nephew or former Sheriff Robert Arnold, who pleaded guilty earlier, along with Joe Russell, who was a chief administrator in the sheriff’s office.

Vanderveer pleaded guilty to one count of witness tampering for trying to convince a sales representative to destroy documents tied to Arnold and Russell.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the recommended (sentencing) guideline range is 18 to 24 months in prison, prosecutors said.  Vandereer also faces a $250,000 fine and supervised release of not more than three years. He will also be required to repay the county $52,500 from electronic cigarettes revenues from the JailCigs business.

His sentencing hearing will take place at 2:30 p.m. on May 19.

Arnold, Vanderveer and Russell had faced a 14-count federal grand jury indictment since late May accusing them of illegally profiting from inmates at the Rutherford County Jail by selling Jail Cigs.  A jury trial had been scheduled Feb. 7 prior to the hearings on the guilty pleas.

Arnold pleaded guilty to wire fraud, honest services fraud and extortion on Jan. 18, and Russell pleaded guilty to the same three charges Jan. 20.

A second guilty plea in Rutherford County sheriff corruption case

Joe Russell, former administration chief for the Rutherford County sheriff’s office, pleaded guilty Friday for his role in illegally profiting off inmates through JailCigs sales at the county jail, reports the Daily News Journal.

Russell, who was fired in November, joined co-defendant and ex-sheriff Robert Arnold this week in entering identical guilty pleas.

Arnold pleaded guilty to wire fraud, honest services fraud and extortion Wednesday after receiving $66,790 from JailCigs electronic cigarette sales from December 2013 through April 2015, court records show. Russell received $52,234 from the company over that same period, according to a Tennessee Comptroller report released Nov. 16.

U.S. District Court  Judge Kevin Sharp asked Russell if the fired administration chief understood waiving rights to a jury trial by pleading guilty.

“Yes, your honor,” said Russell, who’s guilty plea agreement with the government is under seal.

Fellow co-defendant John Vanderveer, the uncle of Arnold, has not entered a guilty plea, and continues to await a Feb. 7 jury trial in Nashville and face a 14-count federal grand jury indictment issued in late May 2016.

The judge scheduled Russell’s sentencing hearing at 1:30 p.m. May 19, which follows the 10:30 a.m. May 8 sentencing hearing for Arnold.

Each count, at the judge’s discretion, carries up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, supervised release of not more than three years and a $52,500 restitution payment from electronic cigarettes revenues from the JailCigs business to the Rutherford County government.

“I am not bound by that,” Sharp told Russell. “Your sentence could be more harsh or less harsh.”

Inmates at the county jail ordered about 10,500 JailCigs. Arnold initially had planned to share a $5 cut per $12.95 order with the county government, but decided after being upset with county commissioners and the mayor in 2014 to keep the “commission owed to Rutherford County,” prosecuting attorney Mark Cipolletti said.

“He believed he would need extra money for his campaign,” said Cipolletti, noting that JailCigs revenues paid for about half of an Arnold campaign event.

Rutherford sheriff pleads guilty in corruption case

 

Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold pleaded guilty Wednesday to three of 14 counts stemming from a two-year criminal investigation into illegally profiting from inmates through a company selling electronic cigarettes, reports the Daily News Journal.

Arnold pleaded guilty to wire fraud, honest services fraud and extortion. Each count carries up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, supervised release of not more than three years and a $52,500 restitution payment from electronic cigarettes revenues from the JailCigs business to the county.

U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp questioned Arnold numerous times to make sure the former sheriff understood that he was waiving his rights to a jury trial.

Me and my attorney have talked about it,” Arnold said. Arnold’s been segregated from other federal inmates at the Grayson County Jail in Kentucky since losing his pretrial release status Sept. 28.

The sentencing date was set for May 8, but the judge said he’d make it earlier if possible in responding to a request of one of Arnold’s attorneys.

Arnold’s attorneys also requested that he be released while awaiting his sentencing, but prosecutors told the judge they’d be filing an opposition by Friday.

Arnold, his uncle John Vanderveer and Russell have faced a 14-count federal grand jury indictment since late May accusing them of illegally profiting from inmates at the Rutherford County Jail in Murfreesboro through the sale of electronic cigarettes from the defendants’ JailCigs business. A jury trial had been scheduled Feb. 7 prior to the hearings on the guilty pleas. The guilty-plea hearings mentioned in court records as of early Wednesday afternoon did not mention Vanderveer.