Sheriff Robert Arnold hired one of the nation's top white-collar criminal practice firms, Neal & Harwell of Nashville, to represent him in his case with the Rutherford County Ethics Committee and potential charges from TBI and state Comptroller's Office investigations.
Tom Dundon, an associate of the firm since 1976, recently spoke for Arnold, whose salary is nearly $125,000, as the Ethics Committee considered a complaint lodged by local residents claiming conflicts of interest and official misconduct by the sheriff.
Dundon, a graduate of William & Mary who received his law degree from the university's Marshall-Wythe School of Law, is one of the firm's most experienced criminal defense attorneys, focusing most of his efforts on white-collar criminal defense, his resume shows.
The Ethics Committee responded by voting to hire its own attorney, who will have to come from counsel outside County Attorney Jim Cope's firm, since he represents the sheriff in other cases.
Ethics Committee members also asked the District Attorney General's Office to launch an investigation into potential conflicts of interest and misconduct by Arnold involving questionable contracts, purchases and vendor services at the county jail linked to him, his family and top administrator.
The five-member committee chaired by County Trustee Teb Batey called for the DA to look into the sheriff's dealings with JailCigs, JailSnacks, a Keefe Commissary subsidiary's $15,000 purchase of stun guns, a contract with Telmate for inmate computer tablets and any other contracts not authorized through the county's purchasing process.