Americans have been conditioned to call 911 or the police when fearing for loss of life, liberty or property. Many accept this as being what they’re suppose to do, but who do you call when the person threatening your life, property or liberty is the sheriff?
A 2014 court opinion from the Tennessee Supreme Court Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel at Knoxville, stemming from a meeting in 2002 between Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong and his former secretary Jo Dean Nuchols, refers to a disturbing, habitual problem from Berrong. From page 4:
“Sheriff Berrong, Chief Crisp and Mr. French testified that at the meeting, the Sheriff was upset because he believed Ms. Nuchols had gossiped to his wife about alleged improprieties. All testified that the Sheriff’s actual words were that he would ‘shave her dog, sugar her gas tank and burn her house down.’ Chief Crisp and Mr. French stated that this was a phrase the Sheriff used frequently. Two other witnesses, Martha Reagan and Dennis Garner, also confirmed that the Sheriff often used that phrase.”
Threats to shave someone’s dog, sugar their gas tank and burn their home down should not be tolerated from anyone, let alone the chief law enforcement officer for Blount County. Anyone often making such a threatening statement is wholly unfit to hold public office.
Ms. Nuchols’ workers compensation case was dismissed because of a failure to provide notice, not because her claim was frivolous. From page 18:
“In its alternative findings, the trial court held that Ms. Nuchols had a claim for 100% total disability. Unfortunately for Ms. Nuchols, she failed to perfect her claim by providing the defendants notice until she filed her claim almost a year later.”
This matter appears to originate from the sheriff’s concern about Nuchols talking with his wife. From page 2:
“It is not disputed that Sheriff Berrong believed that Ms. Nuchols had a telephone conversation with his wife, Gayle, on May 29, during which Ms. Nuchols implied that he had been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a female employee of the department.”
The female employee is identified as Kathy on page 3 but no last name is included. Did the sheriff have an inappropriate relationship with a female employee named Kathy? The citizens of Blount County deserve to know.
Berrong’s website talks about his aggressive approach to drug enforcement and sex offenders. Perhaps Berrong should apply an aggressive approach toward improving his own behavior. Shouldn’t a sheriff lead by example?
It’s time for a new sheriff in town. The election on May 1, 2018 is the day to make that happen.