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

“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:

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

City Council Approves Tax Break For Volkswagen Supplier Gestamp

The City Council on Tuesday approved new tax breaks for a major Volkswagen supplier in Chattanooga. Gestamp already has a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) at the VW supplier park at the Enterprise South Industrial Park. It recently acquired 29 acres at the former Brachs candy plant on Jersey Pike. Gestamp had asked that the PILOT be extended to the new property. Council ... (click for more)

City Settles United Petcare Lawsuit For $150,000

The city is paying $150,000 as its portion of the settlement reached in a four-year-old lawsuit brought by a pet supply firm at Hamilton Place Mall against the city and the McKamey Animal Trust. City Attorney Wade Hinton said McKamey reached a separate settlement that is covered by its insurance carrier. He said it covers McKamey employees that were sued. The attorneys reached ... (click for more)

A New Commercial Look For Signal Mountain

A speaker at the Signal Mountain Town Council meeting last night presented some very interesting information about the council’s new bigger and brighter vision of our commercial area. Councilman Spalding presented a list of sign changes to the Design Review Commission that the council wants and several of those items were approved last night.  Still to come on the list are ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It Was Our Tool Shed

Some said the huge beams had been soaking in creosote for two or three years when the men finally stacked them to dry. They were long, about 20 feet each, and thick – maybe eight inches. I remember they were 14 inches wide but the biggest thing I remember was that it was the ugliest lumber I ever saw. They cured the beams for one entire hot summer in the Tool Shed, a huge building ... (click for more)

Hixson Sweeps Central For First Region 3-AA Volleyball Title

It was a rematch of last week's District 6-AA volleyball final on Tuesday night at Hixson for first place in Region 3-AA. The results were the same as last week, but the second time around wasn't nearly as close as the Hixson Lady Wildcats played one of their best matches of the season in sweeping the Lady Pounders by scores of 25-14, 25-14 and 25-22. Hixson earned its spot ... (click for more)

Ooltewah Defeats Walker Valley, 3-1, For Region 3-3A Title

(Story will be updated) Ooltewah wasn’t about to let Tuesday’s volleyball match against Walker Valley go to five games like the previous two played out. So, the Lady Owls (44-11) stopped the action after four games to claim a 3-1 victory and nail down their third Region 3-3A championship in four years at Edward M. Foster Gymnasium. Game scores were 25-17, 25-20, 17-25, ... (click for more)