A third civilian employee of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office was fired Thursday due to numerous instances of wrongdoing uncovered during a lengthy internal investigation, officials said.
Scott “Scooby” Moore, a onetime county commissioner who was hired by the Sheriff’s Office in 2014, allegedly committed a slew of violations, said Sheriff Tom Spangler in a written statement.
“The actions of Mr. Moore are unbecoming a Knox County Sheriff’s Office employee and extremely disappointing, his actions are NOT representative of the majority of the hardworking men and women at the Sheriff’s Office,” Spangler wrote.
“I will continue to takes steps necessary to protect public trust and operate the Knox County Sheriff’s Office with integrity,” he continued. “I want the public to rest assured this type of inappropriate behavior and negligence will not be tolerated.”
Two other employees, Ivan Harmon and Larry Hurst, were fired earlier this week. Harmon, who was hired in 2011, was also a county commissioner. Attempts to reach Moore, Harmon and Hurst for comment weren’t successful.
Moore and Harmon were hired by Spangler’s predecessor in the elected office of sheriff, Jimmy “J.J.” Jones.
Also Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office released to the public over 200 pages worth of documents from the internal probe conducted by Investigators Toby Champion and Matthew Schlosshan.
The three fired employees worked for the inmate work-release program. Their positions allowed them to build relationships with prisoners from the county jail and — according to the investigators— ultimately abuse their power.
In short, they allegedly violated several departmental rules as well as state law. Inappropriate relationships were struck up with jail inmates, those same inmates performed labor on private jobs, and the proceeds from selling wooden pallets and scrap metal weren’t properly handled, the investigators concluded.
The two investigators conducted extensive interviews during the probe, including a March 1 interview with Harmon in which the former commissioner admitted that he’d “sinned in this mess here,” according to a transcript of the encounter.
During the interview, Investigator Schlosshan tried to reassure Harmon that they didn’t think he was an evil man.
“Ivan, we’re not saying you are a murderer ….We’re not saying you’re some big green monster that’s out here committing all these crimes,” Schlosshan said. “That’s not what we’re saying, you know what I mean?”
“I feel bad, you know, trying to be a Christian that’s a sin if I make a mistake,” Harmon said.
“We all sin every day,” Investigator Champion interjected.
“I know and that’s why we have to pray every day to get forgiveness,” Harmon said. “And have I sinned in this mess here yes I have. And if …. if the administration decides hey this guy needs to go because he hasn’t followed suit then I need to go, does that make sense?”
The former employees haven’t been charged with a crime. Spangler said the state Comptroller of the Treasury, which audits government agencies and investigates allegations of financial wrongdoing, is also involved in the probe.
The scandal became public last year when The News Sentinel reported on an insurance fraud scheme by departmental supervisor Ronnie Kidd to have an inmate steal a car for prominent restaurant owner Christopher Captain. The scheme ended with Kidd and Captain both pleading guilty to felonies.
J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published March 26, 2021