- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - A Rutherford County sheriff’s office administrator who faces federal charges has asked for a public defender to represent him, weeks after obtaining a permit to build a $598,684 home.

Joe Russell, the chief deputy over administration, is charged with Sheriff Robert Arnold and Arnold’s uncle, John Vanderveer, in a 14-count indictment pertaining to profiting from the sale of electronic cigarettes to inmates.

The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro (https://on.dnj.com/1UrUmSX ) reports that county Building Codes records show Russell paid a $1,858 fee on May 6 for a permit to build a 4,405-square-foot home with an unfinished 3,128-square-foot basement northeast of Murfreesboro.

The Tennessee Bar Association website says in order to qualify for a lawyer at no cost, a defendant must show lack of finances to pay for an attorney.

The prosecuting attorney Friday complained about Russell’s request and pointed out the chief deputy’s salary is $71,563 from the sheriff’s office, not counting profits from the sale of JailCigs. Russell’s ownership in JailCigs, along with Arnold and Vanderveer is at the center of the charges.

“I’m going to appoint a lawyer for you,” U.S. Magistrate Judge John Bryant told Russell in court Friday in Nashville, warning him that he could face additional charges if his application to be appointed a public defender contains any fraudulent information.

Vanderveer also requested a public defender.


Information from: The Daily News Journal, https://www.dnj.com

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