Sheriff Kent Harris Booked, Fingerprinted & Released from Jail

Erwin-Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris turned himself in this afternoon to the Unicoi County jail. Harris wore his uniform to his booking. According to the arrest page, he walked in at 1:30 p.m., was fingerprinted and processed then left 45 minutes later.

Judge Lynn Brown issued a criminal summons so Harris did not have to post bond.

The political implications of Harris’ arrest could be widespread. He was appointed, just this year, to serve on the Tennessee Post Commission. They develop state law enforcement standards.

Harris is also a prominent Republican. He served as Congressman Phil Roe’s campaign chairman in Unicoi County, donated over $2,000 to the Roes campaign in 2008, and announced his re-election bid in 2010.

Mr. Harris remains Sheriff at this time. A Monday meeting of the County Commissioners may shed new light on his continued employeement as Sheriff. The District Attorney General Tony Clark and County Attorney Doug Shults may make recommendations on that issue but that remains unclear at this time.

Harris’s faces 10 indictments from a Grand Jury in Unicoi County.

According to a release issued by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the six counts of official misconduct are the result of incidences occurring on several dates in June and July of 2010 when Harris allegedly had Unicoi County inmates perform labor on property owned by him at 604 N Mohawk Drive in Erwin. The deed was transferred to his brother, Jason Harris, this year.

The document states that on or about Sept. 6, 2008, Harris committed the offense of tampering with evidence, Harris altered or destroyed evidence that was part of investigation at this time. The presentment said this evidence involved confiscated moonshine.

According to the charges, Harris committed the offense of criminal simulation in September 2008 by “making or altering a memorandum requesting payment from the county for vehicles valued at $4,500 that were actually donated.” The theft over $1,000 also occurred in September 2008 when Harris received $4,500 belonging to the county, according to the presentment.

The presentment states that Harris’ charge of attempted aggravated assault was the result of his confrontation with Unicoi County resident J.D. Henley. This followed a July meeting of the county’s finance committee and, according to the TBI release, Harris was charged after attempting to assault Hensley with a deadly weapon. The weapon was a cane carried by Harris.

The TBI is looking into “other matters” but what those matters may be, they will not say.

Is this simply Republican politics as usual in Unicoi County?

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