Deputy part of I-Team investigation placed on administrative lea - WSMV News 4

Deputy part of I-Team investigation placed on administrative leave

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Rutherford County Sheriff's Office Administrative Chief Joe Russell Rutherford County Sheriff's Office Administrative Chief Joe Russell
Rutherford County Sheriff's Office Detective Major Bill Sharp Rutherford County Sheriff's Office Detective Major Bill Sharp
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

Rutherford County Administrative Chief Deputy Joe Russell has been placed on administrative leave with pay while under investigation.

Russell has been part of an ongoing Channel 4 I-Team investigation. He is part-owner of JailCigs, a company that sells electronic cigarettes to inmates in the Rutherford County Jail.

Det. Maj. Bill Sharp was also placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Sharp owns a side business that offers training to law enforcement officers. He is being investigated for allegations he was running the business on county time, using his sheriff's office email address.

The I-Team's investigation into insider deals at the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office prompted an ethics investigation.

Members of a citizens' group that want Sheriff Robert Arnold out of office are reacting to this news.

"This should have taken place close to three weeks ago," said Steve Lane with Tennesseans Against Corruption.

Arnold said he didn't know that Russell was a part-owner of JailCigs. His aunt and uncle are the other owners.

"I guess I'm taken aback by that," Arnold told the I-Team earlier this month.

Thursday night, Rutherford County Commissioner Rhonda Allen questioned why Arnold allowed Russell to stay on after the JailCigs connection was made public.

"We need a little more information about it," Allen said. "Is he behaving appropriately as a member of the sheriff's department? And if he is not, then what is the sheriff doing about it?"

A day after commissioners called for an ethics investigation, Russell and Sharp are off the job but still on the payroll.

"A slap in the face to the taxpayers of Rutherford County that they will continue to be paid while they are being investigated like this," Lane said.

Tennesseans Against Corruption said this doesn't change their plan of action. They still plan to go ahead with an ouster suit against the sheriff.

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