TWRA officer on leave following prostitution arrest

TWRA officer on leave following prostitution arrest (Image 1)

An officer with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency who is also a commissioner in Smith County is charged with paying a male prostitute for sex on two occasions in August.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, an informant set up two meetings with Jeffrey Winfree, 47, through Craigslist.org.

According to an arrest warrant, on August 26, Winfree went to an apartment at the Village Hills Apartment Homes at 857 Village Hills Drive in Antioch.

TBI agents said Winfree engaged in oral sex with a 19-year-old male prostitute for $20 on two occasions.  

“I think it is important for the public to realize that we take the behavior of our employees very seriously,” TBI Spokeswoman Kristin Helm said.

Winfree is charged with two counts of patronizing prostitution near a church or a school. The charges stem from the August 26 encounter and a separate one with the same TBI informant on August 29.

He was arrested October 25

Winfree is currently on paid administrative leave from TWRA.

According to an affidavit in support of a search warrant filed with the Davidson County Criminal Court, the TBI began investigating Winfree at the request of a TBI major in November 2010.

The affidavit states that the major contacted TBI after he was told Winfree was seen exiting a locked workshop located at the TWRA Firing Range located at 2618 Hobson Pike in Antioch with a minor child.

The affidavit continues that the major was concerned Winfree may have been using state property to conduct illegal activities.

After the report, the TBI interviewed a former volunteer at the firing range in January 2011.

The affidavit states that the volunteer told the TBI that in 2009 he went to a shop at the firing range toward the back of the property to retrieve equipment. The man told the agent he found a usually unlocked door to the shop locked.

The man told the TBI he knocked and heard Winfree call out from inside the shop either, “I'll be right there” or “Wait a minute.”

The volunteer then said he saw Winfree leave the shop with a young male between 12 and 14 years old.

The volunteer said the two left in Winfree's state-issued vehicle.

The affidavit then turns to an incident in July 2011 when a man left a voicemail message for TWRA's Executive Director stating that Winfree answered an ad placed on Craigslist.

The man said Winfree showed up to meet him for sex while on duty. The man said he wanted to file a complaint because Winfree showed up in his TWRA vehicle and uniform.

The man said he and Winfree did not have sex.

The TBI then began monitoring Winfree's state-issued cellular phone and started following him undercover.

The agents noted that Winfree was seen driving his state-issued vehicle to apartment complexes and single family residences during normal business hours. The affidavit states the places are not consistent with locations Winfree would visit to conduct state business.

At the time of Winfree's arrest, he was not charged with any crimes against minors.

TBI continues to investigate the case and wants anyone with information relevant to Winfree's case to come forward.

“Anytime you are working this type of case our agents are always open to receiving new information,” Helm said. “Just because there is an arrest, it does not mean the investigation is over.”

Winfree remains free on $1,000 bond. According to Davidson County Criminal Court records, his next court appearance is set for November 29.

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