The sheriff of Fentress County, Tennessee, plead guilty Thursday to having sex with female inmates in exchange for favors and to beating a handcuffed male prisoner, officials said.
Charles Cravens, 47, of Jamestown, Tennessee, plead guilty to three counts of honest services fraud and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 20.
“Sheriff Cravens selfishly tarnished the reputation and badge worn proudly by so many hard-working and upstanding members of the law enforcement community who risk their lives every day. He shamefully turned his back on the citizens of Fentress County and used the powers of his office to serve his own personal and sexual desires and to victimize the inmates under his charge,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “Our prosecutors and law enforcement partners are committed to rooting out and exposing corruption and abuse of all kinds and at all levels of government.”
“Our citizens deserve public officials who serve their constituents, not their own personal interests,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Smith. “I promise you that elected officials in our district who abuse their authority and take advantage of the trust placed in them by the folks who put them in office will be brought to justice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners serve the people of the entire district, including, not just Nashville, but also rural areas like Fentress County. We will enforce our nation’s laws equally to protect all our citizens of against abuses of power wherever they occur.”
As Sheriff of Fentress County, Cravens served as the chief law enforcement officer within Fentress County. Among his duties as Sheriff, Cravens was responsible for the operation of the Fentress County Jail in Jamestown, Tennessee, a correctional facility housing approximately 147 male and female inmates.
Among his duties as Sheriff, Cravens was responsible for the operation of the Fentress County Jail in Jamestown, Tennessee, a correctional facility housing approximately 147 male and female inmates.
According to admissions in the plea agreement, Cravens used his position as Sheriff to solicit sex from and have sex with female inmates incarcerated at the Fentress County Jail on multiple occasions between July 2016 and April 2017 in exchange for benefits that other inmates did not receive.
Cravens admitted that in July 2016 he summoned an inmate into his office where they engaged in sexual activity.
In August 2016, Cravens admitted that he discussed having sex together with two inmates and that he drove them to a vacant trailer off jail property where the three engaged in sexual activity, according to officials.
Cravens said he maintained a sexual relationship with these inmates for several months, until they were released from jail, the last being in February 2017.
Cravens claimed that in February 2017, he drove the third inmate outside of the jail to visit a relative and initiated sex with the inmate in his vehicle on the route back. Cravens admitted that had sex with this inmate on at least one other occasion.
Cravens also said that several of the sexual acts occurred in a Sheriff’s Department vehicle that Cravens drove.
Among those benefits, Cravens admitted to personally transporting inmates outside the jail to visit relatives. Cravens also gave money on three occasions to the relatives of two inmates for depositing into the inmates’ commissary accounts.
Cravens let two inmates exit the jail building to smoke cigarettes that he gave them or had jail staff give them.
Cravens allowed his personal cellular telephone number to be given to the female inmates so they could call him using the Fentress County Jail telephone system to leave recorded messages with personal requests.
Cravens provided money on three occasions to the relatives of two inmates for depositing into the inmates’ commissary accounts.
Cravens further admitted he provided his personal cellular telephone number to the inmates with whom he engaged in sexual conduct so they could call him using the Fentress County Jail telephone system to leave recorded messages with personal requests.
According to the plea, between Aug. 24, 2016, and March 1, 2017, three inmates placed over 700 calls total to Cravens’ phone.
Cravens also used unreasonable force as a law enforcement officer in November 2016, kicking a handcuffed male inmate in the backside and also punching him twice in the back of the head