Putnam County Tax Assessor Arrested On Drug Charges

Putnam County Tax Assessor Arrested On Drug Charges

CREATED Jan 15, 2014

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The tax assessor for Putnam County was arrested on multiple charges, including DUI and drug possession charges.

Officials with the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 44-year-old Travis Roberts was arrested following a traffic stop on State Route 136 around 1:20 p.m. Tuesday.

A THP report said a trooper observed Roberts in a 2000 Ford Ranger traveling 50 mph in a 45 mph zone, and said he was not wearing a seatbelt. The trooper said he smelled the odor of marijuana inside the car, and Roberts later handed him a bag of marijuana and a pipe. They said he admitted to smoking the substance.

He was later booked into the Putnam County Sheriff's Department. He was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence, refusal of implied consent, speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt. 

NewsChannel 5 was exclusively on the scene when Roberts was released on $2,000 bail. He expressed regret of the incident.

"I'm ashamed," said Roberts. "I've disappointed my family, I've disappointed my friends, (and the) people who voted for me."

Roberts said although his actions were not right, they did not adversely affect his job performance.

The incident was not the first instance of controversy for the Putnam County Tax Assessor's Office. In 1998, Byron Looper, first elected in 1996, was accused of murdering Senator Tommy Burks in order to inherit his Senate seat. He was convicted of the crime two years later.

Looper briefly ran the Property Assessor's Office from his jail cell while awaiting his trial.

In 1999, Rhonda Chaffin was elected to the office. The State Comptroller said Chaffin undervalued nearly 200 properties by $82 million over the course of three years. The properties were owned by some of the county's most prominent citizens.

Chaffin denied any wrongdoings. The state will hold its first hearing in an attempt to collect back taxes from the land owners later this month.

Chaffin was voted out of office in August 2012. She was beaten by Travis Roberts who promised to restore integrity to the office.