LaFollette Mayor Mike Stanfield was indicted this week on charges he used city resources for his own benefit and then tried to cover it up.
Stanfield, 69, is accused of using city employees and equipment to work on private property, some of which he owned. He’s also accused of telling a city employee to lie to state auditors, lying to state auditors himself and retaliating against City Administrator James Jeffries for reporting alleged misconduct to the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, according to a copy of the indictment.
A Campbell County grand jury returned the indictment Wednesday, charging Stanfield with seven counts of official misconduct, one count of retaliation for report to comptroller and one count of misrepresenting information to state auditors.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Stanfield shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday. He was booked into the Campbell County jail and released on $2,500 bond about an hour later, jail records show.
The indictment followed a monthlong investigation by the TBI and the state comptroller’s office. The investigation was requested by an outside prosecutor, Nathan Nichols, who was appointed to oversee the case after Eighth Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler recused himself due to a conflict of interest.
“The LaFollette Police Department is a member of the Eighth Judicial District Drug Task Force, and Mayor Mike Stanfield is the authorizing agent for that partnership,” Effler explained in a statement.
The indictment says Stanfield’s conduct took place from 2015 up until last month, when he’s accused of lying to auditors as investigators closed in. The document offers few specifics. Nichols and a TBI spokesperson declined to comment further Thursday.
Stanfield is a lifelong LaFollette resident who’s served as mayor since 2008, according to his biography on the city’s website. The small Campbell County town has a population of about 6,700 and sits about 40 miles north of Knoxville.
After graduating from LaFollette High School, according to the website, Stanfield spent two years in the military before returning home to work as a truck driver for LaFollette’s Public Works Department. He climbed the ranks of the department and ultimately served as its head before he retired and got into politics.
Stanfield could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon, and it was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.
Jeffries, the city administrator whom Stanfield is accused of retaliating against, did not return a voicemail left with his secretary. Before being appointed city administrator, Jeffries served as the town’s police chief.
Stanfield’s arrest marks the second time in recent years that a sitting LaFollette city official has been indicted. In 2018, then-Vice Mayor Joe Bolinger was arrested along with two other people in what was described as a food stamp fraud scheme. Bolinger was charged with one count of criminal conspiracy and four counts of fraudulent receipt of food assistance; he ultimately took a plea deal and avoided jail time, according to the Volunteer Times.
In an unsigned statement Thursday, the City of LaFollette said it could not comment on the case against Stanfield “because it is an ongoing investigation.”
“However, the City is fully cooperating with state and local authorities,” the statement reads. “Although it is unfortunate for all involved, the City of LaFollette, City Council and its employees will continue its mission to provide competent city services and to assist the citizens of LaFollette.”
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