Sheriff Arnold returns to work day after TBI, FBI raids

Rutherford County Sheriffs Office

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold was back at work Friday, just a day after his home and office were raided by both the federal and Tennessee bureaus of investigation.

Several people told News 2 the sheriff was seen walking into the sheriff’s office and stayed there for a short time.

Many are now wondering what happens next if the sheriff decides to resign.

County Mayor Ernest Burgess said the department’s second in command, Chief Deputy Randy Garrett, would become interim sheriff.

“Then it’s the responsibility of our board of commissioners to appoint a replacement, and that replacement will serve until the next general election,” Burgess said.

Sheriff Robert Arnold
Sheriff Robert Arnold

If that scenario plays out, the mayor said Garrett will serve out the remainder of his two-year term and a new election would be held in 2016.

Burgess said Sheriff Arnold has made it clear: he doesn’t plan to call it quits.

“We shouldn’t speculate. Things change and who knows what decisions a person may make,” he said.

News 2 also learned the Rutherford County Ethics Committee will meet next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Historic County Courthouse.

A group of citizens filed an ouster complaint. The county’s district attorney asked the TBI to investigate.

Public Safety committee chairman Commissioner Doug Shafer said the ethics committee findings could lead to problems for the sheriff.

“If they see that it’s a gross violation of our ethics policy, there could be some repercussions that way,” Shafer said.

The county mayor said the committee could also ask that Arnold be censored.

“There are limits in the state’s statue that apply here, and it is my belief that it would take some type of charges being filed at the felony level and then probably even a conviction before an ouster could take place,” Burgess said.

Warrants were also served Thursday on two homes of Chief Deputy of Administration Joe Russell and the offices of JailCigs in Marietta, Georgia.

The allegations of public corruptions stemmed from a contract the company had with the sheriff’s office, where it sold e-cigarettes to inmates as a source of income. Russell and the sheriff’s aunt and uncle co-own the company.

Shafer added that there are no winners.

“No matter what happens with this case, it’s going to give our county a black eye,” he said.

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