Sheriff's contract with tablet company signed without county's k - WSMV News 4

Sheriff's contract with tablet company signed without county's knowledge

Posted: Updated: Oct 15, 2015 07:22 PM
Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

The Channel 4 I-Team has uncovered yet another private contractor running under the radar inside the Rutherford County Jail.

New emails also shed light on how a high-ranking Rutherford County Sheriff's Office employee was selling his electronic cigarette company to other jails.

Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold signed a contract last year to allow a private company called Telmate to put tablet computers in the jail. The inmates or their families pay a fee for access and the sheriff gets 25 percent.

Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess said the tablet contract wasn't put out for bid, nor did it go through the county's purchasing process. He is turning the matter over to state auditors and the county attorney.

"It's a complicated matter, but yes, it's being seriously reviewed," Burgess said.

This is the third controversial jail contract uncovered by the I-Team. Earlier this week, we reported that the sheriff ordered more than $20,000 worth of stun guns without any county approval.

The I-Team also found the sheriff allowing e-cigarettes to be sold in the county jail, even though the company is owned by Arnold's aunt and uncle, and his finance deputy, Joe Russell.

"My first thoughts were, oh no, here we go again," Burgess said.

A series of emails revealed that Russell was actively marketing his JailCigs company to other jailers.

In an email, Corrections Corporations of America thanked Russell for his pitch to offer JailCigs for sale to CCA inmates, but their answer was an emphatic "no."

CCA operates 85,000 jail beds across the country.

Arnold and Russell both declined interviews, saying the issue was under investigation.

Copyright 2015 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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