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

Employee At Hanson Pressure Pipe Injured Tuesday Afternoon

An employee at Hanson Pressure Pipe in Sale Creek was injured Tuesday afternoon.  At  1:30 pm , a 911 call was made reporting an employee had sustained an injury to his hand. The Sale Creek Volunteer Fire Department and Hamilton County EMS responded and reported a male in his mid 30s had suffered a hand injury on a piece of machinery. Fire officials reported ... (click for more)

TBI Top 10 Fugitive From Warren County Captured In Florida

A fugitive on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, Bryan James Cooke, was captured  Tuesday  morning in Jacksonville, Fl., a day after being added to the list. Early Tuesday morning, Cooke was arrested at a hotel in Jacksonville by officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. A Jeep that had been stolen from the residence of Gail ... (click for more)

On The News Tonight: A Reflection On A Horrifying Crash And Its Aftermath

On the news tonight,  on the news tonight. The unobtrusive tones on the news tonight. It's just make-believe You can't believe everything you see So baby, close your eyes to the lullabies On the news tonight.   "The News" by Jack Johnson On Journalism On Thursday I was in Jackson, Tennessee playing music. I was a minimum of four hours away ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Tonight, Take A Second

Peter Whibberley, known globally as “The Time Lord,” will freely tell anyone, “There are consequences of tinkering with time,” but tinker we must because the world – planet Earth -- is spinning slower. So tonight at 7:59:60 p.m. EDT, the Senior Research Scientist at Britain’s National Physical Laboratory will add an extra second to the hour – and our day -- before it becomes 8:00 ... (click for more)

Fort Oglethorpe Swimmers Get First Win Of Season

There are a lot of positive and upbeat coaches in the Chattanooga Area Swim League, but perhaps none any more than Fort Oglethorpe veteran Tony Womac. This guy is always happy, always smiling and always offering something positive to those around him. He may have been just a bit more of all the above on Monday night after his Marlins defeated the Cumberland Currents in a home ... (click for more)

John Shearer: A Look At The Origin Of The Lady Vols’ Name

On Wednesday, the University of Tennessee is scheduled to drop the Lady Vols nickname from all women’s sports teams except the basketball squad.   The change has been a source of much debate, particularly in Knoxville. As evidence, several people wanting to keep the Lady Vols name protested last Thursday along Joe Johnson Drive, near where the UT board of trustees was meeting ... (click for more)