Rutherford sheriff pleads guilty in corruption case


Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold pleaded guilty Wednesday to three of 14 counts stemming from a two-year criminal investigation into illegally profiting from inmates through a company selling electronic cigarettes, reports the Daily News Journal.

Arnold pleaded guilty to wire fraud, honest services fraud and extortion. Each count carries up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, supervised release of not more than three years and a $52,500 restitution payment from electronic cigarettes revenues from the JailCigs business to the county.

U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp questioned Arnold numerous times to make sure the former sheriff understood that he was waiving his rights to a jury trial.

Me and my attorney have talked about it,” Arnold said. Arnold’s been segregated from other federal inmates at the Grayson County Jail in Kentucky since losing his pretrial release status Sept. 28.

The sentencing date was set for May 8, but the judge said he’d make it earlier if possible in responding to a request of one of Arnold’s attorneys.

Arnold’s attorneys also requested that he be released while awaiting his sentencing, but prosecutors told the judge they’d be filing an opposition by Friday.

Arnold, his uncle John Vanderveer and Russell have faced a 14-count federal grand jury indictment since late May accusing them of illegally profiting from inmates at the Rutherford County Jail in Murfreesboro through the sale of electronic cigarettes from the defendants’ JailCigs business. A jury trial had been scheduled Feb. 7 prior to the hearings on the guilty pleas. The guilty-plea hearings mentioned in court records as of early Wednesday afternoon did not mention Vanderveer.

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