I-Team investigations ultimately lead to Rutherford Co. raids - WSMV Channel 4

I-Team investigations ultimately lead to Rutherford Co. raids

Posted: Updated: Nov 19, 2015 06:59 PM
Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

The Channel 4 I-Team first reported on Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold's questionable deals that prompted citizen outrage.

It all began with electronic cigarettes and Arnold's initial surprise reaction to what the I-Team uncovered.

"No, I'm kind of shocked by that," Arnold said last month.

The I-Team found Arnold's aunt and uncle owned a Georgia-based e-cigarette company that was doing business with the Rutherford County Jail.

The sheriff's wife works part-time for JailCigs. One of the founding members of the company, Deputy Joe Russell, works directly with the sheriff.

Arnold appeared surprised when the I-Team first shared the information.

"Joe Russell? I mean, I know who he is, but I didn't know," Arnold said. "I guess I'm taken back on that."

The I-Team then uncovered the sheriff's aunt and uncle owned another company, Jail Snacks, that was also doing business with the jail.

Next, we found no-bid contracts, including one that resulted in $20,000 worth of stun guns coming to the jail from a commissary contractor.

Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess said Arnold did not have the authority for those deals.

"We're very disappointed and discouraged about these events and we hope we can get to the bottom of it and regain the trust of our citizens," Burgess said.

The I-Team kept digging, find that Arnold signed a contract last year to allow a private company to put tablet computers in the jail. The sheriff's office got a 25 percent cut.

Burgess said he never approved the contract.

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

The I-Team also uncovered another deal for garment bags no one in the county knew about.

Detective Maj. Bill Sharp was also being investigated for running a company that trains law enforcement officers while he was on county time.

Also on county time, the I-Team uncovered emails about how roughly two years ago, sheriff's employees were buying ammo, apparently to resell it, on county time and using county equipment.

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