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

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BERHE, HURUY M     7010 OOLTEWAH GEORGETOWN RD OOLTEWAH, 37363     20     Collegedale          Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) BLACKMON, COREY SYDNEY     1709 WILSON STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37406    ... (click for more)

Corker Welcomes Action On Adoption Of Congolese Children

Senator Bob Corker on Friday said he welcomed passage of S. Res. 502, a Senate resolution concerning the suspension of exit permit issuance by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents.  “I’ve had the opportunity to hear first-hand the stories of many Tennessee families who are stuck in ... (click for more)

A Tennessee Transplant's Thoughts On Age And Politics - And Response

I have read several opinions favoring the job performance of Representative Fleischmann as well the apparent disdain that they have for his challenger and his age.  I must disclose that unfortunately, I am unable to cast a vote in the 3rd District Republican primary.  I will however always be a Chattanoogan.  As a result, I feel more engaged in East Tennessee politics ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mr. Trump, Stand Down!

I’ve never been a big fan of Donald Trump. Of his worldy possessions, I believe the only things bigger than his $4 billion bank account are his arrogance and his ego but what he did Friday was shameful. Here we have two Americans in Africa on a mercy mission who have been stricken with the ebola virus and as emergency efforts are in progress to bring them home, Trump -- in his usual ... (click for more)

Live Viewing Party Of The National Championship Offered At First Tennessee Pavilion

Chattanooga Football Club fans will get one more chance to gather and cheer on the team as it battles for the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) National Championship powered by Mitre.  On Saturday, from 7-11:30 p.m. at the First Tennessee Pavilion, Big River Brewing Company, Volkswagen Chattanooga, Memorial, Finley Stadium, and EPB Fiber Optics are hosting ... (click for more)

Larry Fleming: Phil Schmidt Made Life Better For Those That Knew Him

The sad news came Thursday morning in a phone call from Jill Bowling, the daughter of Phil Schmidt, longtime photographer at The Chattanooga Times – for years he served as chief of the department – had passed away minutes earlier at TriStar-Centennial Hospital in Nashville. Through Jill’s tears she said, “Daddy died this morning.” It was a phone call I didn’t want to get and ... (click for more)