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Embattled former Kingsport officer gets 30 days in jail

Rain Smith • Jun 1, 2018 at 1:19 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — A former Kingsport Police Department lieutenant who was recorded having sex with a prostitute in his unmarked car has now pleaded guilty to theft.

The latter charge against Ralph Cline, 58, is related to his conducting personal business while on the clock, according to court records, including trips outside of Sullivan County. On Friday in Sullivan County Court, he pleaded guilty to theft under $1,000 and was ordered to repay the city his misbegotten wages: $696.59.

Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus says Cline asked for judicial diversion on the theft charge and agreed to waive his previous attempts for expungement in the prostitution case. Cline immediately began serving 30 days in jail.

Upon completion of the sentence and probationary period, the Class A misdemeanor theft will be expunged from his record. Patronizing prostitution, also a Class A misdemeanor, will remain.

Allegations against Cline, a 32-year veteran of the KPD, arose in October of last year. During a subsequent inquiry, special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation placed a hidden camera in Cline’s unmarked police vehicle.

On Nov. 1, the camera recorded Cline and a prostitute engaging in sexual activity in a Holston Valley Medical Center parking lot. The following day, Cline retired through the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System.

On Nov. 6, Cline pleaded guilty to patronizing a prostitute. Court records state that with assistance from the KPD, the TBI continued its investigation into time sheets Cline had previously submitted.

Examination of a tracker installed in his vehicle revealed instances when Cline was on the clock with the KPD but actually traveling out of the department's jurisdiction “for activities unrelated to the performance of his professional duties.”

Pay that Cline wrongfully received in those instances — as well as during liaisons with the prostitute — were calculated at $874.59. In the prostitution case, Cline has already paid $178 in restitution. Friday in court he was ordered to pay the remaining $696.59.

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