Devout Ten Commandments sheriff faces jail in Tennessee

Devout Ten Commandments sheriff faces jail in Tennessee

A few years back, the County Sheriff in Rutherford, Tennessee – Robert Arnold, above –  posted a framed copy of the Ten Commandments inside the lobby of the sheriff’s department, which also serves as a jail.

He also adorned the premises with the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

At least one resident  – Cindy Wallace– was ecstatic:

I love it. I am so proud that people are finally standing up for our religion. Thank God we have a sheriff with enough guts to put that in the lobby.

In an interview with The Tennessean, Arnold, a Republican, argued that such documents should be allowed to be displayed on public property because they are:

Documents this country was founded on. My job is to enforce the laws of the land, and those are three documents of laws of the land.

Those words should be thrown back in Arnold’s face when, later this year, he will be sentenced for wire fraud, honest services fraud and extortion.

The now sacked sheriff recently pleaded guilty to three of 14 counts of illegally profiting from inmates through a company selling electronic cigarettes.

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 to the county from electronic cigarettes revenues from a business called  JailCigs.

The sentencing date was set for May 8, but US District Court Judge Kevin Sharp said he’d make it earlier if possible in response to a request of one of Arnold’s attorneys. Arnold is currently in custody.

Other defendants in the trial are Joe Russell, a former sheriff’s administration chief, who was fired in November, and Arnold’s uncle John Vanderveer.

Who shopped the sheriff?

The criminal JailCigs investigation began around February 2015 when Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess and County Finance Director Lisa Nolen met with District Attorney Jennings Jones about the sheriff’s involvement with JailCigs.

Jones asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Comptroller to investigate. The FBI joined the investigation and led a search-warrant raid on the homes and offices of Arnold, Russell and Vanderveer in May 2015, about a year before the three were indicted on 14-counts in May of last year.

Russell and Vanderveer are the owners of JailCigs, according to Georgia Secretary of State records.

Arnold disclosed that he and his wife had earned investment income from JailCigs on a conflict-of-interest form filed January 2015 with the Tennessee Ethics Commission, but this came after he had lied to state auditors in 2014 about making money from the business,  lead prosecuting attorney Cecil VanDevender told the judge while summarising the case against Arnold.

Arnold and his wife received a combined $66,790 from JailCigs from December 2013 through April 2015, and Russell received $52,234.41 from the company over that same period, according to a Tennessee Comptroller report released last November 16.

The report also accused Arnold and Russell of violating county purchasing policies by circumventing the process and failing to solicit bids.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

12 responses to “Devout Ten Commandments sheriff faces jail in Tennessee”

  1. Daz says:

    “Who shopped the sheriff?”

    Be ashamed Barry. Be very, very ashamed.

    And happy birthday! I shall raise a glass in your direction.

  2. Playonwords says:

    See! Only “true Christians” know what morality is, thats why they avoid it

    I hope obvious sarcasm is obvious

  3. Barry Duke says:

    Oh come on, Daz. The story cried out for that sub-head. So, no shame there at all. Anyway, thanks for the birthday best wishes, but please ignore BarrieJohn’s suggestion on an earlier thread that readers should contribute towards a gift of a mobility scooter for my 70th birthday. I regard these things as an abomination because, in my neck of the woods they aren’t used by people who need them, but by obese, drunken holidaymakers, mainly Brits.

    Instead, when the time comes, you lot can club together to hire me this hearse:

  4. Stephen Mynett says:

    Great hearse Barry, a friend of mine turned up for his own Humanist funeral on the side-car part of a motorcycle combination. We all had instruction left by him to get pissed and all the religionists there spent the day moaning.

    Have a good birthday, you are in good company, my Dad is celebrating his today, although you are a mere babe by comparison, he is 12 years ahead of you and still enjoying a glass or several of Red.

  5. tonye says:


    Many happy returns.

  6. Angela_K says:

    Christian morals again, glad I don’t have any.

    Best wishes Barry. Love the E type hearse. Written into my Will is transport by Motorcycle combination, hopefully do my final “ton” before they put me in the oven.

  7. Barry Duke says:

    For those of you not familiar with the E-type hearse, let me explain that it featured in the black comedy movie, Harold and Maude, based on book by the late Colin Higgins, a gay screenwriter and activist. If you choose to buy the book from Amazon, it will benefit gay charities as well as earn a small commission for the Freethinker.

  8. David Anderson says:

    Te deseamos muchas felicidades y que cumplas muchos más.

  9. barriejohn says:

    Barry: Harold and Maude – one of my favourite films, co-starring the wonderful Ruth Gordon (actress, screenwriter and playwright). Here’s a little taster (featuring that hearse) for anyone who has never seen it:

    “What sense in borders, and nations and patriotism?”

  10. 1859 says:

    Ahh to be sure,may god bless your cotton socks Barry Duke! Happy B-day! Wasn’t the E-type jag meant to be a phallic symbol? Which means you’ll be going down the chute in real style!

  11. Laura Roberts says:

    @Barry and barriejohn: another big Harold and Maude fan here. The scene in which the priest reacts to Harold’s engagement never fails. “the idea of… intercourse, your firm …young… body… co-mingling with… withered flesh… sagging breasts… flabby b-b-buttocks… makes me want… to vomit” It encapsulates the Catholic church so beautifully. I sometimes wonder how many times they had to perform that scene before they could get through it without laughing.

    Happy Birthday, big fella!

  12. AgentCormac says:

    Incredible just how many rogues and criminals hide behind the veneer of respectability which religion offers them.

    And may I also add my best wishes to you, Mr Duke. Even if it is somewhat belatedly.