The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that an outgoing Northeast Tennessee sheriff now faces a list of charges which includes misuse of inmate labor, forgery, and attempted tax evasion, while two of his employees have also been indicted.
According to the reports, Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray, 71, was arrested on Wednesday, as were Capt. Larry Lee Martin who is a convicted felon and sheriff’s office employee Larry Allen “Fireball” Roberts. Earlier in the day, a Claiborne County grand jury returned indictments against the three men.
A joint investigation into alleged crimes was launched by several agencies in August 2017. The agencies involved were the TBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Tennessee Department of Revenue and Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.
Throughout the following year, investigators allegedly discovered that Sheriff Ray used inmate labor and other “county resources” to work on vehicles and equipment he owned. He also reportedly had his campaign signs assembled by prisoners.
According to reports, Ray recently lost his bid for re-election to Bobby Brooks, a 25-year veteran of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Ray is also accused of forging the title to “at least one vehicle.” The TBI claims that Ray also attempted to avoid paying the proper sales tax on various personally owned vehicles that he had sold, dating back to 2012.
Over the span of the probe, investigators say they discovered that Roberts had used a county vehicle to procure a controlled substance. He was indicted on two counts of official misconduct.
Meanwhile, Martin was reportedly found to have possessed a handgun on multiple occasions. He was then indicted on three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Martin’s specific felony conviction is not noted by the TBI, though the agency stated that an investigation is ongoing.
Ray is charged with seven counts of official misconduct, one count of use of inmates for personal gain, one count of forgery, and six counts of attempt to evade or defeat tax due.
Referring to a proceeding criminal probe by both state and federal authorities, the TBI refused to release any extra information at this time.
All three men were booked into the Claiborne County Jail, with bond set at $10,000 each.