Hamilton County Sheriff Billy Long made his initial appearance in U.S. Magistrate Court today in handcuffs, listening with his head bowed as a judge read extortion, money laundering and gun charges against him.
Sheriff Long was arrested this morning by the FBI on charges he had shaken down local Indian store owners for money and received payoffs for allowing a drug trafficking and money laundering operation between April 2007 and Jan. 24, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Humble.
He is accused of accepting 12 payments totaling $17,400, representing what he was told were payments from the store owners to protect their video poker business and other illegal activity.
He also allegedly received five cash payments totaling $6,550 for allowing the laundering of $625,000 in drug trafficking proceeds, Mr. Humble said during Mr. Long’s brief hearing.
A hearing to determine whether Mr. Long — who is being held in federal custody in an undisclosed location — will be granted bond is set for 2 p.m. Monday.
Sheriff Long was elected in August 2006. He worked in the sheriff’s office for 31 years before retiring to make his bid for sheriff.
Sheriff Long was a U.S. Army Airborne trooper for three years and spent 17 years with the Tennessee Army National Guard.
For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.