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Claiborne County sheriff indicted on misconduct, tax evasion charges

Staff report • Aug 22, 2018 at 3:10 PM

KNOXVILLE — An outgoing Northeast Tennessee sheriff now faces a litany of charges — including misuse of inmate labor, forgery and attempted tax evasion — while two of his employees have also been indicted.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reports that Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray, 71, was arrested Wednesday, as were Capt. Larry Lee Martin (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 trio.

In August, 2017, a joint investigation into alleged crimes was launched by several agencies: the TBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Tennessee Department of Revenue and Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.

Over the next 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.

As reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel, 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 alleges that Ray additionally attempted to evade paying the proper sales tax on several personally owned vehicles that he had sold, dating back to 2012.

During the course of the probe, investigators say they learned that Roberts had used a county vehicle to acquire 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 subsequently 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.

Citing a continuing criminal probe by both state and federal authorities, the TBI declined to release any additional information at this time.

All three men were booked into the Claiborne County Jail, with bond set at $10,000 each.

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