The Sheriff of Fentress County has pleaded guilty after being accused of having sex with inmates and committing civil rights violations during his time in office.
Sheriff Charles Cravens has been charged with three counts of honest services fraud and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
The Department of Justice announced the charges Thursday morning, alleging that the 47-year-old used his position as sheriff to provide benefits to inmates in exchange for sex.
“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.”
Investigators said Cravens had unprotected sex with at least three female inmates on different occasions in exchange for benefits – including driving them to visit family members, allowing them to take smoke breaks outside, and giving money to relatives for deposit into their jail commissary accounts.
The inmates allegedly requested those privileges by calling Cravens’ person cell phone and also left recorded messages on the jail’s phone system.
Those incidents allegedly occurred between July 2016 to February 2017.
In November 2016, investigators said Cravens kicked an inmate at least twice in the backside and placed him in a headlock while an officer handcuffed him. He also allegedly hit the inmate twice in the back of the head while he was still cuffed.
Cravens recently announced his resignation, effective April 28.
If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of honest services fraud and up to one year in prison on the civil rights charge.