Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents arrived just as the Claiborne County Justice Center opened for business Tuesday for what the Knoxville News characterized as a raid on the Sheriff’s Office.
For several hours, agents were seen filing in and out of the facility, carrying boxes of files and computer disks.
Meanwhile, other agents were seen searching the unmarked vehicles parked in the adjacent lot.
Knox News reports:
A TBI mobile command center sat parked outside. Agents at the scene and TBI spokeswoman Leslie Earhart would answer no questions and referred all inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for East Tennessee.
A spokeswoman for the office wouldn’t give any details on the investigation.
At least one assistant U.S. attorney, Frank Dale, arrived on the scene shortly before noon. Others at the Justice Center included TBI Agent Darren DeArmond, who helped lead the probe into disgraced ex-Knox County Criminal Court judge Richard Baumgartner and has worked various other high-profile cases of government corruption in East Tennessee.
Sheriff David Ray had no comment, telling Knox News, “There’s been a lot of rumors going around but we’re not ready to say anything.”
Ray has had a number of scrapes with the law while serving in law enforcement over the course of five decades as a state trooper, investigator, local judge – and now as Sheriff, where he has served three terms.
As Claiborne County’s General Sessions judge in 1986, Ray faced federal bribery charges but was acquitted.
Twenty years later – shortly after his election as Sheriff – he was accused of raping a teenage girl, which he denied. As the case was coming to trial in the summer of 2008, issues surfaces involving the girl’s credibility, and the Court placed Ray on ‘pretrial diversion.’ After serving two years of probation, the Court dismissed the charges.
In 2009, Ray was cited on a misdemeanor charge of hunting without a license after he shot a deer on the county fairgrounds property.
As of this writing, no arrests have been announced and no media media releases have been published about the TBI’s activities in Claiborne County.