Sheriff Arnold plead guilty to wire fraud, honest services fraud and extortion, through a plea deal with prosecutors at his previous court appearance.
He was sentenced to 50 months at last Monday’s hearing, shorter than the 71 months being sought by the prosecution. The eight months he has spent in jail will be deducted from the sentence. His time at the West Tennessee Detention Facility has been spent segregated from other inmates for his own safety.
The tearful, prison jumpsuit wearing ex-law enforcer was choking up as he told the court: “I know I've done wrong. I have betrayed the people of Rutherford County.”
In his mitigation statement, Arnold fessed up to lying to his friends, his family and his work colleagues. He spoke about his failed marriage and the disappointment of his children. Quite how much store can be placed in his words of remorse can probably be measured by his actions following his conviction: While waiting for sentencing, Arnold committed domestic assault, witness tampering and intimidation of his wife as he sought to intimidate her and lied during recorded phone conversations about a gang hit being ordered to kill him in jail.
The judge said: "The sad thing about the offense is that as you said you knew what you were doing was wrong. You thought you could get away with it. You kept compounding the lie. Public corruption is a very serious offense, and such crimes are even worse when involving sheriffs who are supposed to uphold the law and apprehend people who commit crimes. I don't think you'll break the law again, I really believe that."
Arnold’s defence team stated that their client was unsuited to the role of sheriff. The judge agreed: “My job is to factor all those things and give you a sentence that is appropriate, I think it's appropriate that you participate in a mental health program.” He instructed Arnold that he would have to undertake three years of supervised release after serving his period of confinement. "That will punish you adequately.”
Arnold is to hand over the $66,790 he made from the sale of Jailcig ecigs. He also has to find $52,500 in order to pay Rutherford County what they’d have been entitled to had the sales been legitimate.
Arnold’s uncle John Vanderveer and Joe Russell, his former administration chief, are to be sentenced in September for their part in Arnold’s crimes.