Tennessee civil asset forfeiture

This Lincoln MKZ was the subject of an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller's Office. 

(The Center Square) — A former Tipton County Sheriff's deputy was indicted on three charges this week after he allegedly attempted to sell a vehicle to himself.

Former Deputy Daniel Jacobs, an evidence custodian for the department, allegedly posted a 2010 Lincoln MKZ to a state auction site, GovDeals.com, at 1:20 am. On June 10, 2021, and then arranged to have his friend, Jacob Gardner, purchase the vehicle 34 seconds after it was posted for $500 using a "Buy Now" option.

During a Tennessee Comptroller investigation of the purchase, Jacobs admitted Gardner is his friend. Jacobs resigned his post in July 2021 and admitted to the sheriff's office that he "intentionally posted the vehicle for sale so that Gardner could buy it for Jacobs for his personal use."

"The vehicle was acquired by the sheriff's department in a drug seizure in 2014 and later used by the department as an undercover vehicle," according to a spokesperson from the comptroller's office.

Sheriff's departments use the GovDeals.com site to auction off surplus assets, either forfeited or department property, to the public by online auction. Items that the Tipton County Sheriff has sold on the site include tires, trailers, vehicle parts and vehicles.

"We recommend the sheriff's office establish a written policy for how the sale of assets should be handled through online platforms," said Comptroller Jason Mumpower. "This policy will provide guidance to employees and decrease the risk of improper activity. I'm pleased to note that TCSO officials indicate they will address this issue."

The vehicle was later sold on the site for $2,853.83 in October 2021.

Jacobs was indicted for official misconduct, attempted theft of property over $2,500 and computer crimes over $2,500. Gardner was indicted on a charge of attempted theft of property over $2,500.

Staff Reporter

Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.