MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold usually only holds press conferences to talk about someone in jail facing a serious crime, but Tuesday he spoke to reporters about a person who used to represent the same badge he does.
"Trying to blackmail the office of Sheriff is unacceptable at any level," Arnold said.
31-year-old Jessica Lehew, a former detention deputy who was fired last November for missing too much work, now faces extortion for e-mailing the sheriff early Monday morning.
Lehew is the ex-wife of Corporal Will Lehew who, then a deputy, shot a man twice in the legs after he pointed a shotgun at officers in 2010. Will Lehew was put on paid administrative leave.
Jessica Lehew now claims her ex-husband was abusing drugs at the time.
"He was cleared by TBI and the DA's office and they said put him back to work and at that time we did," Arnold explained.
Sheriff Arnold said Cpl. Lehew declined to comment about the case.
Jessica Lehew declined an on-camera interview Tuesday, but told NewsChannel 5 by phone she wrote the emails while drinking alcohol. She also claims she was going through a difficult time last fall while losing her marriage and home shortly before her termination.
In one email written Monday she stated, "you need to fire him and find me a county job".
In another she threatened to go to the media saying, "If I don't get a job you can bet the whole county budget that this information will end up on the front page".
"By trying to blackmail us with the media we wanted to use the media to let you know what's going on," Arnold went on to say. "I don't think any Sheriff in the state of Tennessee is going to tolerate any employee trying to extort them or blackmail them at all. It's not going to happen."
Lehew said the Sheriff is forgetting a fourth email she sent saying she doesn't want to work for him or Rutherford County. The Sheriff's Office said they never received that message.
Right now she faces one count of extortion, but that could grow when she goes to court Feb. 27.
Lehew was released on $2,500 bond.
Arnold also added that he began drug testing of all officers since he took over as sheriff in 2010.