Former East Tennessee Water Division Clerk Indicted For Theft And Credit Card Fraud

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Following a review by the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations, the former clerk of the Watauga River Regional Water Authority/North Elizabethton Water Division surrendered to the Carter County Sheriff’s Office this month after being indicted on charges of theft, forgery, official misconduct and credit card fraud.

The Comptroller's review found the former clerk, Lori Beth Feaster, had stolen cash utility collections, made personal purchases with district credit cards and took unauthorized check payments that amounted to tens of thousands of dollars.

Ms. Feaster used some of the agency’s funds to cover personal expenses such as a battery and windshield wipers for her car and an energy efficient front-loading clothes washer. 

In a report released on Thursday, the Comptroller’s investigators detailed how, in just two years, Ms. Feaster stole approximately $44,174 of ratepayer funds while handling and accounting for utility collections at the agency.

Investigators noted that it was Ms. Feaster’s ability to collect money, prepare bank deposits and sign checks on behalf of the agency without sufficient oversight which presented her with the opportunity to steal public funds. She capitalized on that situation by issuing more than $23,000 in checks to herself, taking more than $15,000 in cash utility collections and making more than $4,000 in fraudulent credit card purchases - all the while falsifying agency records to cover her tracks.

Ms. Feaster concealed $23,743 in checks made out in her name by fraudulently recording the payments in the agency’s accounting records as payments to a backhoe vendor. She also shorted cash utility deposits by at least $15,506.  In one instance, Ms. Feaster changed a $6,974.34 bank deposit slip prepared by another employee to $5,974.35 and kept $1,000 for her personal use.

“Theft or misuse of public funds is unacceptable, whether those funds come from tax dollars, utility bills or any other sources,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “These types of crimes need to be taken as seriously as any other type of theft.”

“The failure to adequately separate financial duties, as was the case here, is the most common weakness in accountability that allows for thefts of public funds to occur,” said L. Rene Brison, assistant director of the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations.  “It is imperative that all public officials and employees put adequate safeguards in place to prevent any single employee from having sole responsibility for each step in the collections and disbursements process.”    

To view the report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/.


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ANDREWS, WINDA FAYE 4902 GOLFVIEW DR CHATTANOOGA, 37411 55 Chattanooga FAILURE TO APPEAR BENN, MARCUS ANTAWAN 3216 6TH AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37407 29 Chattanooga SIMPLE ASSAULT CONTRABAND IN PENAL INSTITUTIONS BLAIS, CANE CHRISTIAN 2824 SYDNEY STREET JACKSONVILLE, 32206 21 Hamilton ... (click for more)

Former Meigs County Official Connie Allen Indicted On Theft Charge

An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of a former Meigs County interim finance director on theft charges. At the request of 9 th  District Attorney General Russell Johnson, TBI special agents began investigating Connie Allen on Nov. 24, 2014. TBI agents worked in conjunction with the Tennessee Comptroller ... (click for more)

Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mom’s Parting Instructions

My mother, Helen Exum, went to be with the Lord in late August of last year and, in the way folks do, I was going through some of her files last week when I ran across an envelope with my name on it. Inside was a story and written in her hand were the words, “This is a wonderful story for you to tell!” Not being one to disobey my mother and not about to waylay the wishes of the ... (click for more)

Southside Smacks Raiders, 13-11, On Wiley's Walk-Off Slam

Southside High School, located in Fort Smith, Ark., didn’t travel 600-plus miles to waste a scintillating comeback against Cleveland on Friday in the Pounder Classic at Central High School. Spotting the Blue Raiders a 7-0 first-inning lead, Southside tied the game in the sixth and then shocked Cleveland with a six-run rally in the last of the seventh – Tanner Wiley, breaking ... (click for more)

Tennessee Fires Basketball Coach Donnie Tyndall

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  – Tennessee has fired men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall. The decision was made based on information the university received during the NCAA's investigation of another institution. The university concluded that Tyndall will likely be held responsible for serious violations of NCAA rules that occurred during his tenure as head men's basketball ... (click for more)