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RCSO Chief Deputy placed on leave pending e-cig investigation

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  The controversy surrounding financial dealings at the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office continues to swell.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, the RCSO announced that Chief Deputy Joe Russell had been placed on administrative leave with pay as a result of an investigation into financial improprieties in the Office.

The statement says that Detective Maj. Bill Sharp has also been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the “outcome of investigations currently underway.”

Earlier this month it was learned that the Russell is part owner of a company that has an exclusive contract to sell e-cigarettes to inmates at the Rutherford County Jail. Relatives of Sheriff Robert Arnold also have an interest in the company. Arnold recently disclosed that his wife works for the company.

It was announced last week that state auditors and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation would both be investigating the financial dealings. Yesterday, the Ethics Committee of the Rutherford County Commission asked the commission for permission to hire an attorney to begin their own investigation.

Sheriff Arnold has had little to say about the controversy after announcing early on that he would cancel the e-cigarette contract. At least one county commissioner has called for the Sheriff to resign.