Dozens of criminal drug cases in Rutherford County could be in jeopardy after a Sheriff's Lieutenant was placed under investigation.
The findings could have a huge ripple effect on pending drug prosecutions within the county. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating Rutherford County Sheriff's Lt. Jason Mathis and it's very likely that the state comptroller will get involved to do an audit.
"If this detective is criminally charged I predict you'll see a fire sale on all of his pending cases," said legal expert and attorney Jim Todd.
Mathis is a 20-year veteran with the department, who heads up the department's narcotics unit.
Over the years, Mathis has been part of some very high-profile drug busts, most recently, one that dealt with over a million dollars worth of illegal drugs confiscated in April.
Mathis faces allegations of official misconduct. NewsChannel 5 has learned he's accused of taking an expensive, zero-radius lawn mower and a trailer that had been seized in one of the many drug cases.
If that's true, Todd said that's a big problem.
"So, if he takes the stuff home that's the same as stealing or theft and that will not only destroy his credibility, but destroy the credibility of the department as well, making it hard to prosecute cases in the pipeline," said Todd.
It's too early to know if this will become a criminal case, but it if it does the District Attorney will recuse himself because it involves a local law enforcement officer.
Mathis, who is not charged with any crime at this time, could not be reached for comment. He was decommissioned and placed on paid administrative leave pending completion of the current investigations.