In September of 2022, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office conducted an evidence audit as part of the change in administration. During such audit, irregularities were discovered in certain records and evidence. Sheriff Jackie Matheny immediately brought his concerns to the 31st Judicial District Attorney General Chris Stanford. General Stanford also acted promptly and requested a special prosecutor to be appointed, and the matter was assigned to the 14th Judicial District Attorney General Craig Northcott on September 22, 2022.
Upon being appointed, General Northcott enlisted the assistance of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as well as investigators with his office to investigate the matter further. Special Agent Luke Webb led the investigation for the TBI with the assistance of Inv. Brandon Reed with the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. After several months of thorough investigation, evidence was developed to show that Steven Carpenter, now former investigator with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, had failed to perform his job duties to properly secure and document evidence in multiple cases. There was nothing found to suggest that any evidence was improperly used or sold by Mr. Carpenter. However, his failure to perform his job duties compromised the ability to use such evidence to achieve justice through the prosecution of those committing criminal offenses in Warren County and caused doubt as to the sanctity of evidence used, at least in part, as the basis of pending cases. Accordingly, in June 2023, General Northcott sought indictments against Mr. Carpenter for three (3) counts of Official Misconduct, which are Class E felonies. The Warren County Grand Jury returned such indictments.
On July 12, 2023, Mr. Steven Carpenter entered a conditional guilty plea in the Warren County Circuit Court to all three (3) counts as charged. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Mr. Carpenter consented to the Court order removing his Police Officer Standards and Training certification, which forever bars him from serving as a police officer in Tennessee. Further, Mr. Carpenter received a five (5) year sentence, which was suspended to probation. The range of sentence for Mr. Carpenter in this matter was one (1) to six (6) years. Mr. Carpenter must meet certain conditions of probation. If he successfully completes such conditions, he can petition the Court for an expungement of the conviction from his record.
Mr. Carpenter failed in his duties in such a way to lessen the confidence of the public in the criminal justice system. For that, he has lost his career, required to be on probation and face a five (5) year prison sentence if he fails to meet the conditions placed upon him. Those of us entrusted with the duty and responsibility to fairly enforce the criminal laws of this State must be held accountable when we fail to do so. That said, Mr. Carpenter faithfully served his community for nearly two decades. Through that, he suffered scars that led to his recent failures. That also has been recognized in this agreement.
Craig Northcott, District Attorney 14th Judicial District