Former Fentress County Sheriff Chucky Cravens is facing federal corruption and civil liberties charges.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith released a written statement this morning. He said Cravens has been charged with three counts of honest services fraud and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
The statement alleges Cravens took up to three female inmates out of the jail at various times for unprotected sex, carrying on a relationship with two of the female inmates until they were released from jail.
The statement alleges Cravens had sex with the women in his office and a vacant trailer. Cravens also allegedly provided extra services, such as visits to relatives and time outside the jail to smoke cigarettes. Cravens also provided their families with money to deposit into their jail commissary accounts.
According to the statement, the inmates would request special privileges through the jail phone system by calling Cravens’ personal cell phone. Calls are recorded. Inmates are charged for outgoing calls that last longer than 20 seconds. Between August 24, 2016, and March 1, 2017, Inmate 1 called Cravens 332 times; Inmate 2 called Cravens 51 times; and Inmate 3 placed 349 calls to Cravens’ phone.
“The citizens of Fentress County, and all of Tennessee, deserve elected officials who work in the public’s best interest, especially from those officials who are sworn to uphold the law,” says TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “We are grateful to have the cooperation and support of our federal and state partners in investigating officials who abuse that public trust.”
“I am grateful to our law enforcement partners for their swift response and assistance to the citizens of Fentress County,” said District Attorney General Jared Effler. “The District Attorney’s Office always stands ready to provide any assistance necessary to investigate and prosecute matters involving public corruption.”
Cravens is also charged in an incident that alleges he kicked a male inmate and punched him in the head after he was handcuffed.
Maximum penalties for the charges are 61 years in jail.
The U.S. Attorney’s office will hold a press conference on the charges this afternoon.