Convicted Sheriff Serving Time In So-Called 'Club Fed'

Posted at 10:19 PM, Jul 24, 2017

Club Fed is considered the best place to be while in prison. It has a music room, pool tables, even a fitness center and now it's home to disgraced former Sheriff Robert Arnold.

It may surprise some to learn he's serving time in what some call one of the country's cushiest prisons. Most will agree it's a far cry from the Rutherford County jail Arnold once ran as sheriff.

Some inmates say the Rutherford County jail is one of the toughest around. In fact, it was a point of pride for the former sheriff with no frills, just the basics.

So, there's some twisted irony now that Arnold is serving his time in almost the exact opposite - a so-called Club Fed.

With landscaping and groomed lawns, this place could pass for a fancy apartment complex, but it's a federal prison camp near the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama and it's home to Arnold for then next three-plus years.

"That's easy time. Not hard time," said one Rutherford County citizen when told of Arnold's prison placement.

In January, Arnold pleaded guilty to wire fraud and extortion linked to the illegal sale of electronic cigarettes in the county jail.

"The public deserves integrity from it's elected officals and it's disappointing when law enforcement leaders abuse their position and contribute to public distrust," said TBI Director Mark Gwyn last year.

The citizens of Rutherford County weathered a long, two-year investigation and prosecution of the sheriff - all the while Arnold still held office.

When he finally resigned and was sentenced, the dark cloud lifted. He was going to prison.

"Again, it just gives final closure to this chapter and that's it. Tragic situation. He hurt a lot of people. Yeah, a lot of people hurt," said former sheriff's department employee Virgil Gammons this past January.

Arnold the sheriff put inmates in spartan cells with few distractions. He believed in hard time. Arnold, the inmate, not so much.

We've learned he serves some of his time working on a golf course ... at a federal prison camp Forbes magazine one ranked as the third cushiest in the entire country.

For Rutherford County resident Don Owens that's a head scratcher.

"It's definitely bothersome for the fact that he committed crimes if we committed we wouldn't be in a nice pretty jail," said Owens. It is a minimum security facility. No fences. No razor wire.

Arnold shares dorm-style bunks with other inmates and spends time with white collar criminals like Jeff Skilling the former CEO of Enron.

Arnold did not get to choose, but was placed a this facility. There are special criteria to be selected for such a federal prison camp. You must be serving less than 10 years for a non-violent offense and have no disciplinary issues while in custody.