If there’s one thing we’ve learned from movies and TV shows about prison, it’s that cigarettes are a popular currency behind bars, and apparently the same holds true for e-cigarettes. But if you’re a sheriff caught running a lucrative e-cig business for prisoners, you could end up one yourself.
Former Rutherford County, TN, sheriff Robert Arnold was recently sentenced to 50 months in prison on federal corruption charges stemming from his part in an alleged get-rich-quick scheme that involved selling electronic cigarettes to jail inmates through jail employees.
According to the Department of Justice, Arnold admitted to using his official position as Sheriff to operate and gain financially from a company called JailCigs.
He also admitted that he concealed his involvement in the company and misrepresented the benefits that Rutherford County was supposedly receiving from JailCigs.
Additionally, Arnold admitted that he personally received over $66,000 from the company, and that he lied about his income from – and knowledge of – JailCigs when he was confronted by local media in April 2015.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the scheme hinged on Arnold using his position to allow JailCig’s e-cigarettes to enter the Rutherford County jail as non-contraband and to be distributed by county employees.
In growing the business Arnold and his co-conspirators allegedly persuaded other jails to take part in the scheme by offering to pay $5 for every e-cigarette sold.
In addition to being sentenced to 50 months in prison, Arnold was ordered to pay $52,500 in restitution and to forfeit $66,790, an amount equal to all proceeds he received from sales at the Rutherford County jail.
Two co-conspirators in the scheme have already entered guilty pleas to similar charges and will be sentenced in September.