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DA asks for outside prosecutor to review Union County sheriff's conduct

A Union County commissioner said the investigation concerns whether the sheriff had sex in his car with a female employee.

MAYNARDVILLE, Tenn. — Eighth Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler said Friday he's asked for an outside prosecutor to look into the conduct of Union County Sheriff Billy Breeding.

The move follows inquiries this week by WBIR about whether a Maynardville police officer saw Breeding having sex with a female subordinate earlier this year in his car.

A Union County commissioner said it's his understanding the incident indeed occurred.

Commissioner Jeff Brantley said he's been told it happened about six weeks ago near the new farmer's market in Maynardville. He said several people, including an officer with the department, told him the sheriff was in his personal vehicle and that the woman was a department cadet.

"This in an election year and unfortunately sometimes that brings out the worst in people," Breeding told 10News. He said no investigators have reached out to him about it, but declined to say whether the incident occurred or not. 

Breeding is being challenged this August by Tim "Bud" Wyrick and Jeffrey Sharp, according to the Union County Election Commission.

"Our sheriff is an embarrassment," Brantley said. "It’s made a laughing stock out of us statewide and I’m glad we’ve got an election coming up this August. Hopefully, we can get it all straightened out at that time."

Effler told WBIR he has asked the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference to appoint a pro tem prosecutor. He declined to comment further. 

Ty Blakely, mayor of Maynardville, told 10News he would defer questions on the matter to the town's police chief. 

Credit: Union County
The Union County Courthouse in Maynardville.

Chief Roger Richardson said he did not wish to make any statement about the matter until an outside DA has been appointed. 

"I really don't want to give any kind of detail just yet on it because I don't know enough about it other than the statement that was given to me by my officer," Richardson said. "Until I talk to the appointed [district] attorney, I don't want to release anything that would compromise his investigation."

He said he expected the prosecutor would be appointed in the coming days. 

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said its agents have not been requested to assist in the matter.

Breeding remains under probation by the state's professional licensing commission after an investigation found he knew his deputies cheated on an online training test and got paid taxpayer money for passing. 

The Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission agreed Breeding's law enforcement certification would be placed on two-year probation starting July 1, 2021. 

"This probation shall in no way affect or interfere with his active duties as sheriff or his right to run for re-election in the future," the POST agreement states. 

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