Tag Archives: sheriff

GOP credentials of sheriff candidate questioned

A Republican candidate in next year’s race for Monroe County sheriff has been informed by state GOP leaders that he must prove his party bona fides or face removal from the ballot, reports the News Sentinel.

Bryan Graves served as chief deputy to former Democratic Sheriff Bill Bivens, who lost the 2014 election to Republican Randy White. Bivens challenged the election and White was forced to step down following a trial that ruled he was not qualified to serve as sheriff.

In an email Saturday to Graves, Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the state Republican Party, said multiple Monroe County Republicans have challenged Graves’ status to run based on his voting record in Republican primaries.

“I have the unfortunate responsibility of informing you we have received a challenge to your bona fide status as a Republican. This means your standing as a Republican has been challenged in order to remove your name from the ballot,” Leatherwood wrote in an email.

Knoxville’s Ryan Haynes, state chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, will render his decision prior to the state’s Thursday deadline, Leatherwood’s email states.

The message instructs Graves to take the next few days to gather evidence that would prove his Republican bona fide status and to forward that information to Haynes by noon Wednesday.

“You may use your voting record if it shows you have voted in 2 of the most recent 4 Republican primaries or you may get letters of recommendation from Republican elected officials to vouch for you to the State Chairman,” Leatherwood wrote in the email.

Graves, who was reached by phone while out of state on a National Guard training assignment, said the challenge stems from the fact that he worked for and supported Democrat Bivens during the 2006, 2010 and 2014 elections.

“I am entirely qualified for the office of sheriff and this has nothing to do with me not meeting requirements of the state I am perfectly vetted,” he said.

Graves said he always voted Republican prior to working with Bivens and has been active in Republican events for most of the past year. He also said the bylaws of the state GOP do not state a specific period of time that he must be active in the party.

Former Bradley County Sheriff Named to Parole Board

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Tim Gobble of Cleveland to the state Board of Parole, filling the remainder of the term left vacant by the resignation of Charles Taylor.
Gobble’s appointment becomes effective Tuesday, July 16 and the term expires December 31, 2015. (Note: A board member is paid $93,732 per year.)
“Tim has demonstrated his commitment and responsibility throughout an extensive career in public service, and we are fortunate to have him on the Board of Parole,” Haslam said. “I am grateful for his willingness to serve in this important capacity.”
Gobble has been interim deputy chief in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office since May, returning after serving as deputy chief in 2010-2011. He served as city manager of East Ridge from April 2011-February 2013. Gobble was the sheriff of Bradley County from 2006-2010.
He served as director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency from 2004-2006 and was a special agent and supervisor in the United States Secret Service from 1989-2004, serving in Nashville, Houston, Washington D.C. and Chattanooga. He was a police officer in Cleveland from 1988-1989.
“I am honored to be appointed to this position by Governor Haslam, for whom I have great admiration and respect,” Gobble said. “I look forward to serving and working with Chairman Montgomery, other Parole Board members, Parole Board staff and relevant stakeholders in the effective operation of the criminal justice system.”
Haslam named Richard Montgomery chairman of the Board of Parole on July 1.
Gobble received a bachelor’s degree in government and public administration from David Lipscomb College, now Lipscomb University, in 1986. He and his wife, Christie, have been married 25 years and have two daughters and one son.

Note: The Tennessean adds some background not included in the news release:
The move comes five months after Gobble was removed as the city manager of East Ridge, a Chattanooga suburb, after a tumultuous two years on the job.
Gobble ran into criticism for a decision to hire a member of his church as a personal assistant and for his disciplining of the city’s court clerks in a case involving his daughter.
Gobble was hired almost immediately by Hamilton County and given oversight of the jail. Gobble also has served as sheriff of Bradley County, director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency and a special agent and supervisor in the U.S. Secret Service
.

UPDATE: And there’s this from Nooga.com:
Asked how he reconciled his pick with Gobble’s recent experience in East Ridge, Haslam declined to comment on the issue and instead focused on his other roles in public life.
“I mean, I can’t really speak for both sides of that issue,” Haslam said. “But I think from what I’ve seen of Tim, both as Bradley County sheriff, his time in Hamilton County and his federal government Secret Service work, I think he can add to the program.”

Judge Dismisses Charges Against Former Unicoi Sheriff

ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) — A judge has dropped six official misconduct charges against former Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris.
The Johnson City Press reports that Judge John Kerry Blackwood ruled there was insufficient evidence to proceed with Harris’ trial, which started Monday.
It would have been Harris’ third trial. Two previous trials ended in hung juries.
During opening statements Monday, District Attorney General Tony Clark told jurors that county inmates were taken to property owned by Harris to bush hog it, mow it, cut wood and raze structures there.
Harris’ attorney said in court that Harris did not know the inmates were working on the property.
A grand jury in October 2011 indicted Harris on felony charges, including official misconduct, theft, criminal simulation, attempted aggravated assault and tampering with evidence.

Sheriff, Legislators Engage in Long-Distance Tongue-Lashing

Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth has fired back after a long-distance tongue-lashing from state lawmakers in Nashville, reports Andy Sher
Members of a House subcommittee smacked Ruth around Wednesday over a column he wrote earlier this month. Ruth is supporting a bill that would require a doctor’s prescription for drugs such as Claritin D or Sudafed, which contain pseudoephedrine. The drug is a key ingredient in methamphetamine.
In the column, Ruth wrote, “The politicians, lobbyists, pharmaceutical companies and meth dealers that are blocking a new, effective law have made for some strange bedfellows.”
Some lawmakers took that as an accusation of corruption. Lancaster Republican Terri Lynn Weaver, for instance, said Ruth should “have the cojones” to come to her office “and look at me eyeball to eyeball and tell me I’m on the take.”
In a statement Friday, Ruth stuck to his guns. He said a December survey showed most law enforcement members in the state see meth as the No. 1 problem.
“I predicted I would come up against strong resistance, and I have,” Ruth wrote. “I see the wording and intent of my articles have been misquoted by some in an effort to come back at me as I indicated in those very same articles would happen.

Two Rutherford Deputies Charged With DUI

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Two officers with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office have resigned after separate DUI arrests.
According to The Daily News Journal (http://on.dnj.com/14OPnSY ), one of the officers was also charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon while under the influence. He is 41-year-old Ronnie Pugh, who was a detention officer with the sheriff’s department. Pugh was arrested Saturday by a state trooper.
The arrest warrant on Sgt. Trent Thomas Givens states a Rutherford County deputy saw the 37-year-old Givens driving is vehicle through people’s yards early Monday. He performed poorly on field sobriety tests and smelled of alcohol.
Both men resigned from the department after their arrests on suspicion of DUI.
Pugh has also been suspended as a volunteer firefighter with the Rutherford County Fire and Rescue Department

Lawsuit Says Bradley Deputy Fired for Supporting Rep. Watson

From a Chattanooga TFP story:
The ostensible reason for firing former Bradley County deputy Dallas Longwith was that he was seen mowing the yard in December, wearing only his underwear.
The real reason Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth fired him a year ago, Longwith claims in a federal lawsuit, is Longwith was open about plans to support state Rep. Eric Watson if he runs against Ruth next year.
“It had nothing to do with work-related stuff — it was just to get rid of me because I had an affiliation with the man who might be the next sheriff of Bradley County,” Longwith told the Times Free Press.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, seeks $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
In it, Longwith claims that Ruth, a Republican, “systematically demoted, cut pay and/or changed the shifts of Sheriff’s deputies who had openly supported” Democrat Steve Lawson.

Supreme Court Says Nashville-ICE Agreement Doesn’t Violate State Law

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the agreement between the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”), through the Davidson County Sheriff, and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) does not violate the Metro Charter or other state law.
In 2009, Metro authorized the Sheriff to enter into an agreement with ICE that allowed designated Sheriff’s officers to perform certain immigration officer duties after being trained and certified by ICE. Those duties included interrogating any person believed to be an alien as to his right to be, or remain, in the United States; processing any removable alien or those aliens who have been arrested for violating a federal, state or local offense for immigration violations; serving arrest warrants for immigration violations; and detaining and transporting arrested aliens subject to removal to ICE-approved detention facilities.
The agreement was challenged by plaintiffs Daniel Renteria-Villegas, David Ernesto Gutierrez-Turcios and Rosa Landaverde in a lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief filed in the United States District Court in Nashville against Metro and ICE. Renteria-Villegas and Gutierrez-Turcios alleged that Sherriff’s officers arrested and wrongfully interrogated and detained them while the officers investigated their immigration status and Landaverde alleged that removal proceedings were instituted against her son after he was processed by Sheriff’s officers pursuant to the agreement. The plaintiffs argued that provisions of the Metro Charter precluded the Sheriff’s office from performing the law enforcement duties in the agreement with ICE because, under the Charter, those duties are solely the responsibility of the Chief of Police. The United States District Court certified a question of law regarding the Sheriff’s authority to enter into the agreement to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Today, the Tennessee Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, answered the certified question by ruling that neither the Charter nor other state law precludes the Sheriff from performing immigration enforcement duties. Metro had the statutory authority to contract with ICE and authorized the actions of the Sheriff. While the Charter designates the Police Chief as the “principal conservator of the peace,” the Charter does not provide that the Chief is the only conservator of the peace for the Metro government and the Sheriff retained some law enforcement functions under the Charter.
To read the Daniel Renteria-Villegas et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County et al. opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, visit http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/renteria-villegasdanielopn.pdf

DCS Investigations of Severe Child Abuse Faulted

There’s a new round of complaints about the Department of Children’s Service, reports the Tennessean, that come from Dickson County and center on contentions that cases of severe child abuse are not being investigated properly.
Severe abuse cases are being miscategorized as lesser offenses, and opportunities to intervene to protect children are being lost, said Jeff Bledsoe, sheriff of Dickson County.
“I have been advised of documented cases, in which reported cases meeting the definition of ‘Severe Child Abuse’ are not being classified as such in accordance with the statute,” Bledsoe wrote.
“This is very concerning to me, as there may be only one opportunity to intervene and protect or save a child’s life,” he noted in a letter to state Sen. Jim Summerville, a Republican from Dickson.
Summerville, who forwarded the letter to DCS, said he is working with child welfare officials in his district to set up a meeting with DCS about the issues raised. He said he was aware of “four or five cases” in his district that had been improperly classified.
Classifying a case as “severe” requires authorities to immediately intervene, Bledsoe said. Cases without that classification may not rise to a criminal offense, often aren’t required to be reported to police and may result in children being left in abusive homes, he said.
…DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day, who staff said was out of state Monday and unavailable, has responded in writing that she will investigate.
“We consider this a very serious matter and intend to conduct a thorough investigation,” O’Day wrote in a Sept. 3 letter, requesting that names and dates of specific incidents be turned over to DCS.
…In Dickson County, “children have been placed in danger due to the process that is currently in place,” Kim Stringfield-Davis, Child Advocacy Center executive director wrote in a separate letter.
“Events of severe child abuse are being ruled as non-severe and not being investigated,” Stringfield-Davis said, also in a letter to Summerville, her district’s representative. The Child Advocacy Center is part of a statewide network of agencies that work with abused children.
“Evidence that could be used in the prosecution of perpetrators is being lost due to cases being screened out and never reaching the investigation process,” she wrote.

Davidson County Sheriff Dropping Immigration Law Enforcement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Sheriff Daron Hall says he will not renew a controversial agreement that allows local deputies to enforce federal immigration law.
Hall began the 287(g) program in 2007 after an illegal immigrant killed two people while driving drunk.
Immigrant rights activists have fought it for years, saying it punishes immigrants who have committed only misdemeanor offenses. They also believe it encourages racial profiling.
On Tuesday, Hall said that since 2007, there has been an 80 percent decrease in the number of arrestees who are illegally in the country. He attributed much of the decline to the success of 287(g), although illegal immigration also has decreased greatly in recent years.
The program will be replaced with Secure Communities, in which the federal government checks the fingerprints of arrestees for immigration status.

Grand Jurors Question How Sheriff Dodged Indictment in Campaign Finance Case

Two McMinn County grand jurors in 2010 complained to an investigator that the jury foreman and an assistant district attorney tried to influence their votes in a politically fraught case, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
The grand jury in July of that year voted not to indict sheriff candidate Joe Guy for campaign finance violations. Guy went on to win the election and is now McMinn County sheriff.
Later, two grand jurors told an investigator they felt improper influence was brought to bear in the jury room by foreman Joel Riley and Paul Rush, assistant district attorney in the 10th Judicial District.
No action was taken, records show. None of the other 10 grand jurors who sat on the case was interviewed, and the investigation was closed.
But both grand jurors told the Times Free Press they still believe Riley and Rush tried to influence their votes.
…The initial complaint alleged that a woman who worked for Gentry and Joe Guy told family members that Guy had given her and her husband cash and asked them to write him checks as campaign contributions.
The initial complaint alleged that a woman who worked for Gentry and Joe Guy told family members that Guy had given her and her husband cash and asked them to write him checks as campaign contributions.
Guy’s statement was slightly different. He told Haynes that Joy Early had come to him with the small contributions. He said he believed they were from deputies and others who didn’t want Frisbie to know they were giving to Guy.