Fentress County Sheriff Charles Cravens, 47, is charged with three counts of honest services fraud and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
An inmate claims she had unprotected sex with the sheriff in his office in July 2016.
According to federal investigators, Cravens also allegedly talked with two female inmates about having sex with them and leaving the jail together. Cravens reportedly drove the inmates to a trailer, which is where they allegedly had unprotected sex. Investigators say Cravens maintained relationships with these inmates until they were released in February 2017.
Cravens is also accused of driving a third female inmate outside of the county to visit a relative. The inmate claims she had unprotected sex with Cravens during that trip.
Federal officials say Cravens used his position to deliver “additional benefits” to the inmates was involved in sexual relationships with, including being let allowed outside to smoke and leaving the jail to visit relatives.
Cravens is also accused of kicking a male inmate and putting him in a headlock while he was being handcuffed. The inmate claims Cravens hit him in the back of the head twice while he was handcuffed.
Investigators say Cravens and the inmates communicated through recorded messages on the jail’s telephone system. Two female inmates called him over 300 times in about seven months.
“Our citizens deserve public officials who serve their constituents, not their own personal interests,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith in a news release. “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.”
Cravens is still technically the sheriff of Fentress County. He submitted his resignation, but it is not scheduled to go into effect until April 28.
If convicted, Cravens faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of honest services fraud and up to one year in prison on the civil rights charge.
United States Attorney Jack Smith will be holding a news conference about the charges at 2 p.m. Thursday.