Rutherford Co. sheriff says ex-deputy attempted to extort him - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Rutherford Co. sheriff says ex-deputy attempted to extort him

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Sheriff Robert Arnold Sheriff Robert Arnold
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

A former jail deputy found herself behind bars because of threats she allegedly made against the Rutherford County sheriff.

Sheriff Robert Arnold said the woman contacted him in the middle of the night and tried to blackmail him with information about another officer.

"For someone to try and blackmail to me is dumb," Arnold said.

Arnold didn't take the emails lightly and charged former deputy Jessica Lehew, 31, with extortion.

"Naturally trying to blackmail the office of sheriff is unacceptable," Arnold said.

Monday morning around 1 a.m., Lehew allegedly sent three emails within the hour threatening to contact a Daily News Journal reporter if the sheriff didn't comply with her demands.

She wrote: "If I don't get a job, you can bet the whole county budget that it will end up on the front page of the DNJ."

Lehew said the emails weren't meant to blackmail.

"There was an email where I ask for my job back, and I ask for Will to be fired. He failed a drug test, and other people are being fired for DUI," Lehew said.

She refers to her ex-husband, Rutherford County Sheriff's Cpl. Will Lehew, who still works for the department. Cpl. Lehew was involved in a shooting back in 2010 where he shot a suspect in the leg. "Jason Wilkerson with the TBI called Will and said, 'you failed your drug test for methadone,' and I know he used methadone a few days before the shooting," Jessica Lehew said.

The sheriff said that's not the case.

"We can say he was cleared by the TBI and the DA's office and told to put him back to work," Arnold said.

Jessica Lehew was fired in November 2012 for performance and absenteeism. She was accused of sleeping on the job and being repeatedly late.

In one of the emails, she wrote she is at rock bottom and has nothing else to lose.

"At the time I was having the attendance issue, my divorce was final Oct. 25. I lost my house Oct. 31. I lost my car Nov. 5. And he fired me Nov. 15," Jessica Lehew said.

Jessica Lehew said there was a fourth email sent around 6:30 a.m. the same day that wasn't given to members of the media.

She is charged with one count of extortion but more charges may follow, according to Arnold.

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