Category Archives: law enforcement

Judge revokes bond, sends Rutherford sheriff to jail

A federal magistrate Wednesday revoked bond for Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold Wednesday and ordered him to jail because of new domestic assault charges brought while he is awaiting trial on corruption charges, reports the Daily News Journal.

“I find sufficient probable cause that Robert Arnold committed (domestic assault against his wife),” U.S. Magistrate Judge Alistair Newbern ruled Wednesday morning.

She also ordered that Arnold be escorted out of her courtroom by a U.S. Marshall, who placed handcuffs on the sheriff’s wrists held behind his back.

Newbern revoked Arnold’s $250,000 bond in the JailCigs case and ruled probable cause exists that the Rutherford County sheriff was involved in a domestic assault against his wife as well as witness tampering.

However, she left opened the possibility of him being released if he resigns from office and agrees to stay away from his wife and Rutherford County deputies.

Second-in-command Chief Deputy Randy Garrett will take charge of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office while Arnold is in jail, County Mayor Ernest Burgess said.

The sheriff will continue to receive his annual salary of $127,078 while behind bars, Burgess said.

“That’s the way I read the state statute,” the mayor said during a Wednesday morning phone interview before Arnold’s federal court hearing in Nashville. “He’s still the sheriff until he is convicted of a felony. When that occurs, he is removed as sheriff.”

State law does provide that an acting sheriff can be in charge whenever the sheriff is incapacitated, such as having to be detained while awaiting trial, the mayor said.

In Arnold’s case, he and his uncle John Vanderveer, and Joe Russell, the Sheriff’s Office accounting chief, face a 13-count federal indictment accusing them of illegally profiting from inmates through the sale of JailCigs, an electronic cigarettes business.

No charges in Memphis police shooting black man

By Adrian Sainz, Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A white Memphis police officer won’t face federal civil rights charges in the shooting death of a 19-year-old black man, the federal government announced Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton told reporters that a federal review found insufficient evidence to file charges in the 2015 shooting of Darrius Stewart by Officer Connor Schilling.

Stanton added that the review by the Justice Department found that Schilling did not willfully or with a “bad purpose” deprive Stewart of his rights.

The Justice Department announced in December that it was reviewing the shooting, which had sparked peaceful protests in Memphis. Stewart’s shooting occurred in the months after the deaths of black men at the hands of police in Missouri, New York and elsewhere aggravated racial tensions in the country. Continue reading

Durham hit Florida fan during UT football game

Former state Rep. Jeremy Durham hit a University of Florida fan in the face during the University of Tennessee’s football game Saturday and was escorted out of Neyland Stadium by a law enforcement officer, reports The Tennessean.

Several witnesses confirmed an officer approached Durham and asked him to leave. The recently expelled lawmaker complied and was escorted out of the stands by a Blount County sheriff’s deputy.

Photos and video obtained by The Tennessean verify that Durham was approached by the deputy and others after the hitting incident.

When initially approached by event staff, Durham said, “Did you see what he did? He pushed me. And I pushed his sunglasses off.”

A Tennessee fan who saw what happened said Durham was sitting with his wife and state Sen. Brian Kelsey, a longtime friend of Durham’s. The Tennessee fan said a particularly boisterous Florida fan was yelling loudly, and at one point Durham responded to the yells. The Florida fan started yelling at Durham. Once the Florida fan yelled at Durham, the Tennessee fan said Durham turned around and hit the man in the face.

“As he hit the guy’s face, almost slapped at his face, he caused the guy’s glasses to fly off his face. (The glasses) probably went 10 to 12 people down the aisle and one row in front,” said the fan, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.

…David Williams, son of former Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams, who was seated three rows behind the Florida fan and four rows behind Durham, said, “I saw Mr. Durham turn around and basically smack the guy in the face and it knocked the sun glasses off his head.” Continue reading

Rutherford sheriff, already facing corruption trial, accused of domestic assault

Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold, already facing trial on corruption charges, has now been accused of a domestic violence assaylt on his wife, reports the Daily News Journal.

“The defendant has been accused of domestic assault against his wife, Megan Arnold,” states a pretrial release petition from Kimberly J. Haney, a pre-trial services officer to U.S. Magistrate Judge Alistair E. Newbern.

Rutherford County’s District Attorney General Jennings Jones asked the TBI to investigate the alleged domestic assault after rumors surfaced that sheriff’s deputies had been called to the Arnolds’ Osborne Lane home but did not file a report.

Megan Arnold told the TBI that her husband became violent with her after the couple returned home from a Labor Day party at a friend’s house where he had been drinking, according to the court records. When the sheriff returned home, his wife told the TBI agent, he continued to drink and took an Ambien sleeping pill.

Later, when she opened the bedroom where the sheriff was, “the defendant pushed Mrs. Arnold to the floor and punched her in her right arm near her shoulder,” court records state.

“Mrs. Arnold kicked the defendant, and a struggle ensued,” the court filing continues. “During the struggle, the defendant grabbed a belt and wrapped it around Mrs. Arnold in an attempt to drag her out of the room without leaving marks on her body. Mrs. Arnold slipped out of the belt, and the defendant pinned her on the bed with his body. Mrs. Arnold related the defendant said if he were to place all of his body weight on her that she would stop breathing.

“Eventually, the defendant got up and Mrs. Arnold went to another part of the house,” court records state. “In a recorded conversation between Mrs. Arnold and a third party, Mrs. Arnold stated that she wanted to make a statement to the police, but she is scared of the defendant.”

However, when asked to sign a statement concerning the alleged assault in a Sept. 20 meeting with the TBI, Megan Arnold refused, although she admitted the account was accurate, court records reveal.

…The sheriff his uncle John Vanderveer and Joe Russell, a sheriff’s office accounting chief, face a 14-count federal indictment accusing them of profiting from inmates through the sale of JailCigs, an electronic cigarettes business. The three await a jury trial scheduled to start Feb. 7 before Middle Tennessee U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp in Nashville.

Fired Muslim THP trooper get $100K in damages

U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell has ruled that former Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper De’Ossie Dingus is entitled to $100,000 for wrongful termination and years of discrimination because of his Muslim religion, reports the News Sentinel.

“He was treated as a threat,” the judge wrote. “He was labeled as a possible terrorist-in-the-making. He was subjected to humiliating circumstances. All because he is a Sunni Muslim.”

Dingus, a military veteran who worked for the THP for a decade, was fired in 2010 after military liaison Maj. Kevin Taylor called Dingus a potential terrorist based on a brief encounter in November 2009 when Dingus complained about the airing of a video on the radicalization of children during a training class that was supposed to teach troopers how to recognize weapons of mass destruction.

…Campbell’s ruling notes the terrorist claims were the last in a long string of mistreatments of Dingus by supervisors because of his faith.

…Campbell had already ruled in Dingus’ favor, but there was one big legal problem when it came to damages. Rather than going to a psychiatrist or a therapist as a prelude to proving emotional distress or a doctor to corroborate stress-induced illness, Dingus hustled to pay his bills and filed a claim with the Tennessee Civil Service Commission.

He won $154,000 in back pay and benefits as a result of that claim but had to agree to take early retirement. Attorney Knight insisted the Department of Safety needed to be held accountable, and a financial punch for damages was the only way to do that. But the law requires some showing of psychological and medical damages.

Campbell initially awarded Dingus $1, but the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year Dingus’ case was so “egregious” it didn’t matter whether he had proved psychological fallout via traditional means. The harm he suffered, the court opined, was obvious. That ruling led to this week’s reconsideration of damages by Campbell.

Comptroller: Jail inmate got full-time county job

News release from state comptroller’s office
An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has found numerous problems with the way inmate labor was handled within the Marshall County Solid Waste and Sheriff’s Departments. Marshall County allowed jail inmates to work at the county’s solid waste facility in Lewisburg.

Investigators determined the solid waste director hired an incarcerated felon as a full-time county employee at $12.46 per hour. He received the same employee benefits as other county employees including health insurance, retirement, and sick leave. The inmate was paid a total of $12,444.43 by the county.

Comptroller investigators also found that inmates working at the solid waste facility were not properly supervised. This led to workers scavenging and hiding alcohol, drugs, tobacco products, cell phones, weapons, pornography, and other contraband items within the facility. Continue reading

Former THP sergeant charged with harboring illegal immigrant

A former Tennessee Highway Patrol sergeant charged with harboring an illegal immigrant will be released from custody Tuesday and allowed to remain at home pending his trial, according to The Tennessean.

In early August, a federal judge ruled that Ronald E. Strickland should remain in custody because connections to Honduras could make him a flight risk. But U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp signed an order Friday releasing Strickland, who will be electronically monitored and allowed to stay at home, according to court records and Strickland’s attorney, Ed Yarbrough.

At a court hearing in early August, Yarbrough said Strickland’s work as a public servant — he served in the U.S. Marine Corps before joining THP — and other factors meant he was not a risk and should be released from custody.

Strickland was arrested in late July on a federal charge of harboring a 22-year-old Honduran woman, according to court records. Court documents say he picked up a woman he knew in Texas in mid-July after she traveled from Honduras and through Mexico to meet with him.

Three make plea deals in sheriff corruption case

Three people involved in the pending trial on corruption charges against Gibson County’s former sheriff Thursday accepted plea agreements, reports the Jackson Sun.

Former Sheriff Charles “Chuck” Arnold, former Chief Deputy Jeff Maitland, and 10 other former Sheriff’s Office employees were indicted following an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in late November 2015.

Joel Hughey, Eddie Bradford and Renea Terrell, who were among those indicted, pleaded Thursday to lesser charges. Hughey and Terrell pleaded guilty, and Bradford entered an Alford plea, known as a “best interest” plea.

The three defendants who made plea agreements may be called to testify against others in the case. Arnold, Maitland and the other remaining defendants decided they will go to trial.

Hughey and Bradford were fired from their positions as correctional officers after they were indicted on charges of theft of $1,000 or more and official misconduct. According to a state investigative audit report, Hughey and Bradford were among several employees accused of receiving overtime pay for work they didn’t do.

… Terrell, the contract nurse (working with the sheriff’s department), pleaded guilty to one count of theft and three counts of conspiracy to obtain controlled substances by fraud and will serve three years on probation. She must pay $1,339.92 in restitution. Her case is subject to judicial diversion, which means she could have her criminal record expunged if she satisfies the terms of her probation.

Terrell was originally indicted on one count of conspiracy to obtain controlled substances by fraud, 39 counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud, 39 counts of official misconduct and two counts of theft

…Arnold is charged with more than 100 counts of official misconduct, theft and obtaining prescription drugs by fraud.

According to the audit report and indictments, Arnold’s official misconduct charges stem from accusations that he took money from a drug fund; forged a receipt; submitted excessive payment requests for himself, Maitland and another employee; authorized excessive compensation for multiple employees; falsified pay records; inflated invoices; and obtained controlled substances by fraud.

Jury awards $560K back pay to police officers

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A jury in Hamilton County has ruled that the city of Chattanooga failed to give police officers promised raises and to maintain fair conditions of employment.

The Chattanooga Times Free-Press reports that on Thursday the jury awarded 25 officers more than $560,000 in back pay for the time that they worked without receiving the raises.

The case stemmed from a pay policy that allowed recently hired officers to earn higher salaries than their supervisors.

The officers said that the city had sent a document to police in 2010 that laid out changes to police salaries. They said the document promised future pay raises that they never got.

The jury also rejected the officers’ claim that the city discriminated against them because of their age

Haslam ‘not a fan’ of decriminalizing marijuana

Gov. Bill Haslam says he doesn’t like the idea of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, as proposed in pending Nashville and Memphis city ordinances, reports WATN-TV in Memphis.

“I’m not a fan,” he says. “While I do think we’ve had some people who have spent more time in jail than they need to for that. I’m not in favor of decriminalizing that.”

…”I think we have enough of an issue around substance abuse now,” he said. “You can debate whether it’s a gateway drug and all this. I’m not the expert. But I just don’t think its a helpful step for our society given the struggles we have right now with substance abuse.”

Nobody is talking about making it legal. It would still be against the law to be carrying around half an ounce of marijuana, only if decriminalized, you wouldn’t go to jail, you’d pay a fine. The Memphis City Council is scheduled to give the decriminalization plan the first of three readings on Tuesday, September 6th.