Sheriff Robert Arnold sued by former Rutherford County employee

Sheriff Robert Arnold (Photo: WKRN)

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – In a lawsuit filed Friday, a former employee of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office claims the sheriff was in “violation of constitutional rights and unlawful employment practices.”

The suit, which also names the county and sheriff’s office as defendants, was filed by Virgil Gammon, who was let go of his duties as deputy chief on Sept. 18, 2015.

Virgil Gammon
Virgil Gammon (Courtesy: Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office)

At the time he was let go, Sheriff Robert Arnold told Gammon that his “services were no longer needed.”

Gammon’s lawsuit claims his termination was “a direct and proximate result of [him] reporting the illegal activities at the Defendant Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office including unlawful conduct by the elected Defendant Sheriff Arnold.”

In regard to the “unlawful conduct,” Gammon references both the controversy surrounding the Jail Cigs investigation as well as a shrimp boil Arnold allegedly held to fund his re-election with City Tele Coin Company providing the shrimp, which the suit calls “an unethical practice.”

City Tele Coin Company (CTC) provides telephone services to inmates. A representative of CTC is reportedly married to a representative of Jail Cigs, which is owned by Arnold’s aunt, uncle, and colleague Deputy Chief Joe Russell of the sheriff’s office.

Gammon says he “refused to remain silent about illegal and unethical activity” beginning in the summer of 2014 and reported that activity to outside authorities, including the Tennessee State Comptroller’s office, Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, “and others,” saying he wanted to “bring awareness and an investigation into the unlawful activity of Defendant Sheriff Arnold.”

The former deputy chief is asking for compensation, including back pay, the value of lost employment benefits, damages, and reinstatement of his position “he held until he was unlawfully terminated.”

Click here to read the full 26-page lawsuit against Sheriff Arnold, the sheriff’s office and Rutherford County.

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