TBI cleans CCSO house

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) descended upon the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) on Aug. 22 with indictments in hand, netting the arrest of Sheriff David Ray, Captain Larry Lee Martin and CCSO garage employee Larry Allen Roberts on a myriad of alleged counts.

The sheaths of true bills contained 15 counts against Ray. Seven of those counts were for official misconduct. Ray, 72, was also indicted on five counts of tax evasion and one count each of forgery and the use of inmates for personal gain.

The TBI also arrested county jailer Larry Martin, 45, on three counts of a felon in possession of a firearm during events allegedly occurring on March 10, April 17 and May 1.

Roberts, 54, who worked in the Claiborne Justice Center garage, was indicted on two counts of official misconduct for the alleged use of public property to acquire marijuana for personal use during events allegedly occurring on Feb. 17 and March 10.

Roberts, known locally as ‘Fireball,’ has been convicted on several charges dating back to 2000. He was sentenced to 15 years confinement for attempted aggravated arson, but was apparently paroled. His criminal history includes aggravated assault, possession of explosive components, vandalism, parole violation and public intoxication.

The TBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service worked during the last year to gather enough evidence to present to the Claiborne Grand Jury, which returned true bills the morning of the midday arrests.

Part of the year-long investigation netted for the agencies allegations of illegal activity at the CCSO that includes the use of inmate labor and county resources to work on vehicles and equipment the sheriff personally owned.

According to the press release, inmate labor was also used to assemble the campaign signs Ray used during the recent elections.

The investigation also revealed that Ray forged and altered the certificate of title to at least one vehicle and attempted to evade paying the proper sales tax on several personally-owned vehicles that he sold, dating back to 2012, according to the press release.

The three men were arrested and booked into the Claiborne County Jail, each on a $10,000 bond. Ray, Martin and Roberts posted bail and were released the same afternoon.

The three are expected to be arraigned on Sept. 10 in Claiborne County Court.

Martin could be facing five years confinement, if convicted.

It is unclear just how Martin attained his position at the CCSO, considering his history as a convicted felon.

Sheriff Ray declined an interview, at this time, with the Claiborne Progress.

The case was presented to the Claiborne Grand Jury by prosecutors from the 13th Judicial District due to an apparent conflict of interest with the Office of the 8th Judicial District, which has worked many cases together with Sheriff Ray.

An indictment does not indicate guilt. An indictment does indicate that the Grand Jury found enough evidence to warrant sending the case to trial.

The Claiborne Progress is following this story closely, and will provide updates as they become available.