Former Rutherford County deputy charged with extortion

Former Rutherford County deputy charged with extortion (Image 1)

A former deputy with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office was arrested Monday for trying to blackmail the department after she was fired.

Jessica Lehew, 31, was terminated on November 14 for what the office called severe absentee issues.

Early Monday, Rutherford Sheriff Robert Arnold began receiving threatening emails from Lehew accusing her ex-husband, a current deputy with the sheriff's office, of using drugs while on the job.

“This was a great big shocker. For a former deputy to be dumb enough to try to blackmail the sheriff, that's exactly what I thought,” said Arnold said in a news conference Tuesday morning.

In the emails, Lehew claimed her husband, Will Lehew, shot a suspect in 2010 and then tested posted for the drug methadone but it was “swept under the rug.”

Lehew threatened to go the media with the information about her ex if the sheriff didn't give her another job in the county.

“She goes into detail about some incident that was in 2010. She claims he was on drugs and other accusations at that time. We can say that he was cleared by the TBI and the [district attorney's] office and was told to be out back to work,” Sheriff Arnold continued.

Lehew was charged with one count extortion, a Class E felony, and booked into the Rutherford County jail. She has since been released on a $2,500 bond.

Sheriff Arnold said Lehew could face up to three counts of extortion by the time her case goes to trial.

Will Lehew declined to comment.

Arnold said the couple had been going through a “nasty” divorce.

Lehew was hired by the sheriff's office in February of 2002.

Lehew was hired by the sheriff's office in February of 2002.  She is scheduled to appear in a Rutherford County courtroom February 27.

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