Whitwell Police Chief placed on administrative leave

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TBI released the following statement following the investigation/indictment of Whitwell Police Chief Rodney Easterly:

“A joint investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office has resulted in the indictment of the Whitwell Police Chief on multiple charges, including Tampering with Evidence, Theft of Property and Official Misconduct.

At the request of the 12th District Attorney General Michael Taylor, on April 28, 2016, TBI Special Agents joined investigators with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in investigating James Rodney Easterly on complaints of theft, controlled substance violations and fraudulent receipt of food assistance within Marion County. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that implicated Easterly in those and other charges, which occurred over several months in 2016.

On June 8, the Marion County Grand Jury returned indictments, charging Easterly (DOB 10/31/70) with Conspiracy to Commit Theft, Possession of a Controlled Substance for Resale, Conspiracy of Possession of a Schedule III Controlled Substance, Fraudulent Receipt of Food Assistance, Official Misconduct, Theft of Property, Coercion of a Witness, Tampering with or Fabricating Evidence, and Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of Attempt to Commit a Dangerous Felony. On Thursday night, Easterly turned himself in at the Marion County Jail, where he was booked. His bond was set at $38,000.”

Stemming from a search warrant executed in April of 2016, Whitwell Police Chief Rodney Easterly was indicted on several allegations. Easterly maintains his innocence and has retained attorney Stephen Greer for his upcoming defense.

Upon notification of the indictment, Easterly self surrendered to Marion County Sheriff’s detention center, was booked, and was issued a $38,000 bond, which was posted as he awaits court.

The investigation leading to the search warrant was the result of a recently arrested source who agreed to participate in a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation(TBI)/Marion County Sheriff’s Department  sting operation targeting Easterly.

Several city officials spoke off the record about Easterly as a community asset and were saddened by the events that have transpired. Bugsy Roberts, who serves with Easterly on the Christmas for Kids board said of Easterly, “He’s just always helping and doing things in the public eye and being willing to go raise the funds.” Roberts added, “None of us are perfect, but I just hold Rodney in high esteem for his tireless work in the community. There are hundreds of kids and families that he was one of the main reasons they got a Christmas.”

Easterly acknowledged that he is serving a leave without pay from his responsibilities with the City of Whitwell. City Administrator Todd Mistrot confirmed, “Pursuant to the City of Whitwell’s policy, Easterly has been placed on administrative leave without pay. Sargent Kenneth Seagraves is interim police chief.”