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 on Facebook ... (click for more)

Senator Overbey Nominated To Be U.S. Attorney For Eastern Tennessee District

State Senator Doug Overbey was nominated by President Trump on Friday to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District. Senator Bob Corker said,  “Doug Overbey is an outstanding choice to serve Tennesseans as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District. Doug has had a distinguished law career, spanning nearly four decades, and has served the Volunteer State honorably in the ... (click for more)

Do Something To Protect Our Children

It is unconscionable in this day and age that these children had to exist in such deplorable conditions and that an innocent baby suffered and died alone in a locked car.  Yes, there is blame and accountability considering this family had child neglect charges filed a few years ago (that were apparently dropped and expunged) and a large part of the responsibility should ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: School Board Shoves Back

The Hamilton County School Board, told that ‘no’ was not an option three months ago when state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen arrived to take over five floundering public schools, may have to ask the Governor to call out the Tennessee Guard. A very vocal School Board shoved a bitter ultimatum right back into McQueen’s lap during a work session Thursday night and showed it ... (click for more)

Lookouts Take Second Straight At Mobile Thursday With 4-1 Win

MOBILE, Ala.  -- Nick Gordon scored on a wild pitch in the first inning, leading the Chattanooga Lookouts to a 4-1 win over the Mobile BayBears on Thursday. Gordon scored on the play in the first to give the Lookouts a 1-0 lead after he led off the inning with a single, stole second and then went to third on a groundout. With the score tied 1-1 in the second, the Lookouts ... (click for more)

Katie Tingle Named Covenant Women's Basketball Assistant

The Covenant women's basketball program has announced the hiring of Katie Tingle as the full-time assistant coach for head coach Sarah Harris. Tingle replaces Kiaira Cooper, who recently left the program for an administrative position at Houghton College.  "I am so thankful to director of athletics Tim Sceggel and head coach Sarah Harris for this opportunity to ... (click for more)