Deputy Clerk In Maury County Forged Documents, Stole Funds

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A deputy clerk in the Maury County Clerk’s Office used her position to forge public documents, delete transactions, and keep $10,070.14 from taxes and fees for her own personal use, an investigation by the Comptroller’s office has found.

The investigative report, which was part of the audit of Maury County government released Thursday, noted that the deputy clerk improperly deleted records of more than 100 cash transactions for vehicle title registrations and renewals. She then requested duplicate titles, forged the owners’ signatures and lowered the listed sales prices on the vehicles, which made it appear that less money was owed for sales taxes and fees.

Although the deputy clerk returned $3,205.42 of the money from the voided transactions in the form of the “reduced” taxes and fees, an unrecovered cash shortage of at least $6,864.72 remains from the clerk’s office’s funds over a period of more than two years.

The deputy clerk confessed to taking the funds in July and was fired while the investigation, which was conducted in cooperation with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, was ongoing. The deputy clerk died in November. As a matter of policy, the Comptroller’s office does not identify people in audits who haven’t been charged with crimes.

The investigation also found other issues, such as the failure of employees in the clerk’s office to alert investigators about the deputy clerk’s actions or the presence of unreceipted office funds used to cover daily cash shortages in a timely manner.

The investigation also uncovered several weaknesses in accounting and management practices, such as keeping inaccurate inventory records of vehicle plates and renewal tags, failing to adequately separate employees’ duties to create a system of checks and balances on financial transactions and allowing employees to process their own personal vehicle transactions.

The audit also noted that an employee in the Maury County Circuit and General Sessions Clerk’s office was prosecuted for stealing $2,207. Details about that finding were outlined in a separate special investigative report from the Comptroller’s office. That report is available online at http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/repository/ia/maurycountycourtclerk.pdf.

“It is very disappointing when people who are in positions of public trust violate that trust,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “I commend our auditors for the work they have done in bringing these problems to light. I think these types of cases serve as reminders as to why local governments need to follow sound accounting and bookkeeping practices to reduce the potential for fraud, waste or abuse of public funds.”

To view the full audit of Maury County government online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/la/.

Anyone who suspects fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee, should call the Comptroller’s hot line at 800 232-5454 or fill out a report online at http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/shared/safwa.asp.



Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news.  Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like us ... (click for more)

Former Manager Of Zaxby's On Shallowford Road Pleads Guilty To $6,630 Theft

The former manager of the Zaxby's on Shallowford Road has pleaded guilty to the theft of $6,630.79 from the store. Jimmel Lajun Hill appeared before Judge Don Poole. Prosecutor Tom Landis said Hill would falsely state that customers had asked for refunds after complaints about the food. He was caught on video making false entries, it was stated. The thefts occurred between ... (click for more)

Vote No On The Rezoning For A New Landfill In Harrison - And Response (3)

County Commissioners, please consider the following facts when voting on the rezoning request for a new privately-owned C&D landfill in Harrison.  Use of this property for a landfill has been rejected by the county three times in the past (1971, 1984 and 2007).  In 1971 and 2007 the County Commissioners unanimously rejected the proposal.  In 1984 the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UT A 34-Point ‘Dog

I can’t remember a time in my life when a University of Tennessee football team has been a five touchdown underdog and this comes at a time when my primary-care physician tells me, “Let’s face it … you are old.” That said, even when I look at myself naked in the bathroom mirror I ain’t as ugly as what I fear will happen in Tuscaloosa this coming Saturday. I can remember the Tide ... (click for more)

East Hamilton Beats Sullivan South 3-0 In Class AA State VolleyBall

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – East Hamilton, a relative green horn when it comes to performing on volleyball’s biggest stage, saved its best effort of the season for Tuesday’s opening match of the 2017 TSSAA state tournament against Sullivan South. Facing the defending and five-time champions, the Lady Hurricanes raced past the Lady Rebels out of Kingsport 3-0 and advanced to the second ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats Father Ryan Again To Advance At State

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The third time was not the charm for Father Ryan here at MTSU’s Murphy Center Tuesday afternoon. Facing the Baylor Lady Red Raiders in the opening round of the TSSAA D-II Class AA state volleyball tournament, the defending state runner-up Baylor squad defeated their Nashville rivals in three straight sets, winning by scores of 25-19, 25-12 and 25-23. ... (click for more)