MOUNT CARMEL, Tenn. (WJHL) – Mount Carmel residents are reacting to the news of the city’s Mayor, Chris Jones’, arrest by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Monday.
Jones stands accused of stealing more than $300,000 from his grandmother and her estate between November 2014 and January 2016, according to a TBI report.
Jones was taken into custody, booked into the Hawkins County jail, and held on a $300,000 bond.
News Channel 11 reached out to all five of the city’s Aldermen, the Vice-Mayor and City Administrator for comment on the arrest.
City Hall officials, as well as a majority of the Aldermen board, refused comment on the matter with the exception of Aldermen Steven McLain and Jim Gilliam. The two released very different statements regarding the arrest.
“It’s been a long time coming. I expected this to happen,” said Alderman McLain. On the other hand, Alderman Gilliam is waiting for the investigation to play itself out. “I stand by the constitution, people are innocent until proven guilty,” said Gilliam.
However, this isn’t the first time Mayor Chris Jones has been mentioned in a negative light. Back in 2018, Jones was found guilty by a judge of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his dying grandmother, which resulted in him having to pay up to $600,000 in damages.
Another incident happened in 2016 where the former Mayor of Mount Carmel, Larry Frost, fired Jones from his position at the police station following allegations of stolen narcotics.
Frost said they had received a number of calls indicating wrongdoing by Jones. After looking into the allegations, Frost said he moved to terminate Jones, and the board withheld the decision.
While Frost said he hasn’t really kept up with Jones’ efforts in office, he said the arrest is a shame to the city.
“It’ll be up to the authorities now what they do with him, but for our city, I hope the best. I’m a resident of Mount Carmel, I’ve been here for 47+ years and I always want the city to do good,” said Frost.
Former detective Phillip Robinette, says he saw this arrest coming. “Even a child could have put the case together because it was like putting a puzzle together, you could see the different things coming into play, I know of other incidents that he was involved in and I hope that those things will go further as the TBI gets further in their investigations,” said Robinette.
While Jones has not been removed from his post as mayor, nor has he yet resigned following the arrest, Robinette believes he should leave his post. Frost said he just wants to see the best for the city.
“Anything as a public leader that your charged or arrested for, it has to hurt our community. I hope our community will heal and go forward,” said Frost.