Lawrence County Sheriff Jimmy Brown, who is under indictment for alleged abuse of power, lost his re-election bid last Thursday. And, a race with statewide interest is drawing questions over irregularities.
Military and law enforcement veteran John Myers, a Republican, beat the Democratic sheriff by 53 percent to 31 percent, The (Columbia) Daily-Herald reported Saturday. Independent Rick Osborne took approximately 16 percent of the vote.
‘Boss Doss’ loss raises questions
The Lawrence County election process was called into question, especially over the narrow defeat of State Rep. Barry “Boss” Doss (R-Leoma) lost to newcomer Clay Doggett, The Tennessee Star reported. A 16 hour delay occurred in the reporting of the results in the Republican primary.
“The fact that several different and inconsistent vote numbers have been reported from Lawrence County over the past 24 hours raises serious questions about whether the disparities are due to incompetence or actual technical issues or something more sinister. The fact that the Secretary of State’s office seemed to have no idea that there were problems indicates that an investigation or a full audit is in order,” Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said.
Late Friday, the Election Administrator’s office confirmed to The Tennessee Star that Lawrence County Election Commissioner Stephen Thompson, who previously served as a campaign advisor to Barry Doss in one of his first elections, was in the Lawrence County Election Office Thursday night when the “problems” with vote counts occurred.
Myers to assume sheriff’s duties
Meanwhile, in the sheriff’s race, Brown, 71, refused to step down after the indictment in May, opening the way for Myers, who will take office in September. He is a former U.S. Marine who served at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
On Election Day, Myers posted on Facebook, “I’ve worked, sweat, stressed and bled to get to this very day. I said it before and I’ll say it again, nobody in this race has worked as hard as I have. My wife, kids, family, friends and even my dog can vouch for me when I say that I’ve sacrificed over a year of our lives for this campaign.”
Sheriff booked into his own jail
A grand jury indicted Brown on official misconduct, tampering with evidence and use of inmate labor for personal gain, WKRN said in May following the verdict. His captain, Adam Brewer, was charged with one count of official misconduct for allegedly falsifying time sheets. The sheriff was booked into his own jail.
“The bottom has fallen out of my world,” the sheriff told WKRN. “I can tell you that because I have done nothing criminally wrong.”
Brewer, an 18-year veteran, said the indictment and arrest “floored” him.
Investigators report findings
The investigation was led by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, at the request of District Attorney Brent Cooper. The Comptroller’s report is available here.
Investigators determined that Brown and Brewer, his jail administrator, allowed inmates to leave the jail improperly, the Comptroller’s report said. Some of the inmates were dropped off at public locations and only checked on when the supervising individual had time.
Other inmates were granted furloughs without proper authorization by a judge, the Comptroller said. Another inmate was “loaned out” to sheriff’s department management and staff to help with chores at their personal properties.
Court records show Brown also allegedly exceeded his authority by releasing defendants on their own recognizance or on a signature bond without the proper order, the comptroller said, The Daily-Herald said in an Aug. 3 story.