Nashville, Tennessee: The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Tennessee announced through Project Safe Childhood that a Putnam County Commissioner was charged on Thursday, May 26, 2022 with possession, receipt, and distribution of child pornography.
The offenses are alleged to have taken place between June and August 2021.
57-year-old Jimmy Ray Neal of Baxter, Tennessee is scheduled to be back in court for a detention hearing at 2:00 pm this afternoon.
If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years up to a possible 20 years in prison.
Neal's arrest was the result of an investigation that began in July 2021.
An unnamed Oklahoma man was arrested on similar charges according to the statement, and his arrest opened an investigation into a Kik group where other members were later identified including the administrator, "tennesseemaster," which is alleged to be the account Neal used.
News Channel 5 reports that Neal allegedly told law enforcement that he was viewing the material in order to take notes to provide to law enforcement. He also admitted that he never reported the activity in the Kik group to law enforcement.