Henry County Bookkeeper Took Nearly $30,000 In Public Funds, Probe Finds

Friday, December 21, 2012

A bookkeeper for the Henry County General Sessions Court Clerk improperly took almost $30,000 in court funds for personal use over a five-year period, an audit by the Comptroller’s Division of Local Government Audit has revealed. 

Auditors were alerted to the potential problem after General Sessions Court Clerk Mike Wilson reported that some funds that were received in his office by mail were not recorded by the bookkeeper.

That prompted a wider look at the bookkeeper’s practices dating from Jan. 1, 2007 through Aug. 22, 2011. Auditors concluded that the bookkeeper pocketed cash paid to the office for court fines, costs and fees, then substituted checks received from other transactions that had not been recorded to reconcile the office’s records. 

The bookkeeper was fired and the auditors’ findings have been shared with the local district attorney’s office. 

Auditors said the bookkeeper had been allowed to manage all aspects of those fee collections, from the receipt of funds to the deposit and recording of them, which was a contributing factor that allowed the misappropriation of money to continue for such a long time.

Good accounting practices call for multiple employees to share money-handling responsibilities to reduce the opportunities for one individual to steal funds, officials said.

The audit also found that the offices of the county register and sheriff also had similar problems with failure to adequately separate money-handling responsibilities, although no funds were unaccounted for in those offices. 

"The lack of proper segregation of duties is a common problem in local governments across Tennessee, but it is also one that creates the potential for serious fraud to occur,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Having more than one employee involved in processing financial transactions sets up a system of checks and balances – what our auditors refer to as ‘internal controls’ – that can prevent the theft of public funds. I encourage other local governments to learn from what happened in Henry County and take appropriate corrective action.”

Among other recommendations, auditors also suggested that Henry County centralize its accounting, budgeting and purchasing operations and set up its own audit committee to review the financial reporting process, internal controls, the audit function and other best practices in financial management.

To view the full report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/la/SpecialReports.asp

Woman, 20, Kidnapped And Sexually Assaulted On Monday

A woman, 20, was kidnapped and sexually assaulted on Monday.    At approximately 5 p.m. Chattanooga Police responded to the report of a sexual assault. The victim told police she had been walking on the 3200 block of Calhoun Street when she was approached by a white male in a newer model black Ford truck. The suspect made several lewd comments toward the victim ... (click for more)

Bradley County Deputy Sheriff Injured In Incident Monday Night

A Bradley County deputy sheriff was transported to Tennova Hospital on Monday night after an injury while on duty.  Deputies James Dearth and Jimmy Dale Liner were attempting to speak to Mark Nelson, 50, after having been called to a residence at 300 Talon Ridge Drive on a disturbance. The deputies met Nelson in an upstairs room in the house, where he became aggressive.  ... (click for more)

Ole Man River Just Keeps Rollin

Citizens are hearing yet another new chapter in Chattanooga’s 21st Century Riverfront concrete repair saga. It seems it will require more repair, more delays and more tax dollars to do it. When will it end? Construction of the Riverfront concrete structures began in 2003. Before it was finished, designers, engineers, contractors, Public Works officials, Mayor Littlefield and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It Was Our Tool Shed

Some said the huge beams had been soaking in creosote for two or three years when the men finally stacked them to dry. They were long, about 20 feet each, and thick – maybe eight inches. I remember they were 14 inches wide but the biggest thing I remember was that it was the ugliest lumber I ever saw. They cured the beams for one entire hot summer in the Tool Shed, a huge building ... (click for more)

Sale Creek Comes Back To Beat Silverdale For 3-A Volleyball Crown

It's been an incredible run for the Silverdale Lady Seahawks in recent days as they shocked everyone except themselves by winning the District 5-A volleyball tournament last week. They entered as the third-seeded team before knocking off number-two Boyd-Buchanan in the semifinals and then top-seeded Grace in the final. That run of good fortune continued at Sale Creek's McEwen ... (click for more)

Ooltewah Makes Short Work Of White County In 3-3A Volleyball

Ooltewah had one goal going into Monday night’s Region 3-3A volleyball tournament match against White County. Don’t mess this up. The Lady Owls, shooting for their third regional championship in four years, never wavered in thrashing the outmanned Warriorettes, 3-0, and advanced to Tuesday’s championship match against the Walker Valley. Game scores bear out the one-sided ... (click for more)