ERWIN — A Unicoi County inmate has been charged with extortion for allegedly threatening to reveal an internal investigation involving a Unicoi County jailer, who has been fired by the Unicoi County Sheriff's Department.
Jason C. Yarborough, 34, Pavo, Ga., was charged with extortion. Yarborough had been in the Unicoi County Jail since late June on a initiating the process to manufacture methamphetamine charge.
Unicoi County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Frank Rogers said the sheriff's department recently conducted an internal investigation into of the the jailers violating the department's policies and procedures with respect to "inmate privileges."
"Early on in our internal investigation, we showed grounds to believe that the jailer had in fact violated these procedures, and she was terminated as a result of it," Rogers said. "Since it's an internal investigation and not a criminal investigation, we're not releasing details about what the exact situation was in the jail or her name."
The alleged actions of the jailer were reported to District Attorney General Tony Clark, who preliminarily indicated no criminal act on the part of the jailer, Rogers said.
Rogers said Yarborough sent to letters to Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley on Oct. 15. In the letters, Yarborough threatened to reveal the internal investigation to media if Hensley did not release him from jail and return him home to Georgia.
As a result of the alleged letters, Yarbrough was charged with extortion, a class D felony. If convicted on the extortion charge, Yarborough could face an additional 2-12 years in prison on top of any sentencing he may receive on his other charges, Rogers said.
"There has been no arrangement by the sheriff's office and there will not be an arrangement by the sheriff's office to give him any kind of immunity or to release him," Rogers said. "We just feel like, at this point, if there's something to be said, we'll say it, and we're not going to be threatened by him."
Rogers also said the jailer was fired because of the results of the investigation and before Yarborough's letters were sent.
"So us firing her was not a reaction to receiving the letters," he said.