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Jailcigs Sheriff Finally Heading to Jail

JailCigs ecig sheriff cops prison time for illegal schemes after guilty plea.

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A story we have been following since early 2015 finally comes to a close as the ex-sheriff of Rutherford County tells the truth at last. Despite all of his previous attempts to obfuscate and lie, Robert Arnold has pled guilty to all charges and is now waiting to hear the length of time he will serve inside as an inmate.

At the outset, it was obvious that this was a particularly unsavoury man and, by his own words, a coward. Rather than help a victim of a car crash, he stood and watched as the man burned to death. He claimed his uniform was not fire retardant enough – but went on to gift the uniforms from his department to…the local fire department.

He presided over an anarchic police department that frequently indulged itself in illegal beatings and assaults. Each time he would speak in defence of his officers and take no action.

When he stood for re-election in 2014, he stood on a ticket that proclaimed him to be “fair, honest, open and accountable”. The misleading image failed to represent his true chunky nature and the campaign benefitted from $22,000 that had been syphoned from one of his illegal enterprises.

Arnold was an initial investor in Jailcigs, putting up $3,000. The company sold two types of electronic cigarettes, designed for use in prison environments. The company’s products were put into Arnold’s Rutherford County jail system without any competitive bidding process. It is said that JailCigs sold $156,975 of e-cigarettes to inmates up to the point where Arnold was arrested. He pled guilty to having made $66,000 off the sale of the vape products, Russell (Arnold’s former administrative chief deputy) made $52,000 and Vanderveer (Arnold’s uncle) made $49,000.

Initially, Arnold tried to claim that the only link he had to JailCigs was that “My wife works part time answering phones for them.”

The case came to light thanks to a lobby group called Tennesseans against Corruption. One of the members said: "It was no bid, his family is making money. It’s very under the table. He thinks he’s above the law. I think he’s met his match. The buck stops with him, that’s why we want to see him removed from office.”

Arnold has gone from a popular sheriff (with over 50% of the vote at the last election) to a lag pleading guilty on charges of extortion, wire fraud and bribery. The acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee said: “Today Robert Arnold admitted his guilt and participation in the brazen criminal scheme that was charged in the indictment We think his guilty plea will hold him accountable for his criminal conduct.”

Under the plea deal, Arnold is facing a $52,000 fine and between 4 to 6 years in prison – where he will be able to find out first hand what inmates thought of JailCigs.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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