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Blackmail attempt ends in woman's arrest

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Jessica Lehew

Drunk dialing has produced some poor decisions, but perhaps few as poor as attempting to blackmail the Rutherford County sheriff.

Sheriff Robert Arnold held a press conference Tuesday morning to announce a former deputy had sent him threatening e-mails from 1-3 o'clock Monday morning.

The former deputy, Jessica Lehew, 31, of Murfreesboro, threatened to go to the media with information about her estranged husband who is currently a corporeal in the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office booking and transportation department.

"This was a great big shocker to me for a former deputy," Arnold said, "to try to blackmail a sheriff is incredibly dumb."

And her stupidity was likely aided by alcohol.

"From what I was told, she was drinking ... That's what she told booking," Arnold said, referring to Jessica Lehew's arrest on one count of extortion Monday night. She was released short time later on a $2,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Specifically, Jessica Lehew's e-mails questioned why she had been fired in November 2012 while her estranged husband Will Lehew was allowed to come back to work following an officer-involved shooting in 2010.

She then threatened to call local media to expose her husband's misconduct and drug addiction if Arnold "did not find (her) a county job."

"I've already got (Daily News Journal reporter) Mark Bell's phone number programmed in my phone, and I will call him," Lehew wrote.

The incident she referred to was in October 2010 when Will Lehew shot suspect Roland Garrison after a domestic dispute at Garrison's home in the Blackman community. Will Lehew was placed on routine administrative leave with pay while Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents conducted an investigation.

Garrison was admitted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and released the next day. He was charged with four counts of aggravated assault of Will Lehew and three other deputies.

"The TBI cleared him; the TBI drug tested him; the DA said put him back to work," Arnold said.

As far as Jessica Lehew's job performance, she was allegedly warned many times for missing work, sleeping on the job and insubordination, among other issues, before being fired from her post as a detention officer on Nov. 15, 2012.

Arnold said he knew Jessica Lehew was having problems with her marriage and the Sheriff's Office tried to work with her schedule, but her performance continued to suffer causing her termination.

"We did what we could, but it's pretty common for us to be dragged into messy divorces ..." Arnold said. "And anything an officer does can get drawn out into the media."

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Blackmail, Crime, Drunk Dialing, Jessica Lehew, Murfreesboro, RCSO, Robert Arnold, Rutherford County, Sheriffs Office, Will Lehew
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Members Opinions:
February 13, 2013 at 9:13pm
This is an interesting report. Although it is sad that Lehew's marriage was rocky, and her exploitation of her husband's drug addiction was completely uncalled for, I find it fairly amusing that she would be so unwise as to threaten the sheriff, especially intoxicated. Alcohol can make people do stupid stuff, but this is beyond bizarre. There are plenty of ways for Lehew to get her opinion across, but threat is certainly not one of them. We live in a country where expression of opinion is totally acceptable, so she should have just expressed her frustration, instead of making a mistake so irrational that it would cause her to go to jail. If she expressed such an opinion, however, it would receive little notice, due to her poor track record as an employee. Because she was such a poor deputy, she has no right to blackmail the sheriff into giving her a new job. When it comes to her rocky marriage, she should have addressed it in a more polite manner. Again, since she was under the influence of alcohol, she did not have much of a filter. Perhaps in a job application, she could have mentioned that she was struggling to find work, and that her marriage was making it all the more difficult. Ruining her husband’s reputation does not help anyone.
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