Jason Norris Mathis, the former head of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office narcotics division, has been indicted and turned himself in to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, authorities say.
Mathis, 42, was indicted by the Rutherford County Grand Jury Tuesday on one count of theft and one count of official misconduct, the TBI said in a press release. The former lieutenant, accused of taking property seized from an investigation, turned himself in Thursday and was booked on a $10,000 bond at the Rutherford County Jail, said Jason Ponder, an assistant district attorney with the 14th Judicial District in Manchester, which is handling the case.
Since then he posted bail.
Mathis is accused of taking a lawnmower, said Josh DeVine, communications director for the TBI.
Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh fired Mathis in July after he had been placed on administrative leave with pay during an internal investigation.
At the request of 16th District Attorney General Jennings Jones, TBI agents began investigating Mathis on July 12, the TBI said. Agents developed information that he took property seized during a prior investigation.
Ponder said his office in Coffee County is handling the case because the 16th District has worked frequently with Mathis and wished to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest. He said he is not aware that a court date has been set yet.
If found guilty, the theft charge, a Class D felony, could carry a sentence of two-four years, while the misconduct charge, a Class E felony, could carry a one-two year sentence, Ponder said. However, there are a range of options for a first-time offender, he said.
Mathis’ personnel file shows the 20-year veteran received two commendation awards in 2009, a July story in the Murfreesboro Post says. The only disciplinary report in his file shows he was suspended for one 10-hour day without pay in March 2002 for failing to appear in a grand jury hearing. The report shows Mathis was out of town on an extradition trip and missed the hearing.