Lawrence County sheriff, captain under arrest for misconduct

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By JAMES BENNETT  |   Columbia Daily Herald 

Lawrence County Sheriff Jimmy Brown and Capt. Adam Brewer were arrested Thursday after being indicted by a grand jury on charges of misconduct.

The 71-year-old Brown was booked into his own Lawrence County jail, charged with two counts of official misconduct and one count each of use of inmate labor for personal gain and tampering with evidence. His bond was set at $25,000.

District Attorney General Brent Cooper asked the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate numerous problems within the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department.

Brown and his jail administrator allowed inmates to leave the jail improperly, the Comptroller’s office said. Some of the inmates were dropped off at public locations and only checked on when the supervising individual had time.

“During the investigation, agents say they learned that from 2015 to 2017, Brown allowed inmates to be used for labor by various county employees at their personal residences or for other personal business,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson’s office said in a news release Thursday.

“Agents also found that Brown allegedly used his position as sheriff to circumvent the bond process for some defendants who had been arrested, allowing them to be released from jail without requiring them to pay the secured bond ordered by a judge,” it continued.

Brown also exceeded his authority by releasing defendants on their own recognizance or on a signature bond without the proper order, the comptroller said.

“In some situations, bond amounts were set by a court or magistrate, but the sheriff did not require the bond to be paid when the defendant left the jail. Comptroller investigators found several instances in which the Sheriff accepted campaign contributions from families of individuals he released on their own recognizance,” the comptroller’s office said.

The investigation revealed that Brown violated multiple laws in his handling of a confiscated still and moonshine.

“The seized items were not properly documented in the evidence log, and the sheriff told investigators that he poured the moonshine out prior to a court ordering its destruction,” the comptroller said. “Sheriff Brown had a duty to arrest the suspects involved in this case; however, he did not make any arrests since he felt the family had “enough trouble elsewhere.”

Brewer, 40, was charged with one count of official misconduct and also booked in the Lawrence County jail under a $5,000 bond. Brewer also was accused of falsifying time sheets and misleading investigators “as to the accuracy of the reported hours worked at the department,” the news release said.

Investigators determined Brewer falsified his time sheet when he indicated he worked on Sept. 16, 2016. Brewer was actually in Florida on a personal trip in his Lawrence County assigned vehicle, the comptroller said.

“Capt. Brewer also exceeded his authority when he allowed two Lawrence County deputies to take extended sick leave from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department while they worked a second job at the Saint Joseph Police Department. Capt. Brewer is also the Saint Joseph chief of police,” the comptroller said.

In announcing the indictments, Wilson said other problems were found.

“We also found several problems with how time sheets and leave balances were handled by the Sheriff’s department,” Wilson said. “The department should follow its own personnel policies and ensure accurate time sheets are submitted and approved.”

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