Fentress Forgeries

The signatures on Fentress County time sheets for a secretary in the sheriff’s department were forged, a sheriff’s employee told state auditors, who determined that even though the secretary was earning full-time pay, her duties did not require that amount of time.

Auditors with the state comptroller’s office have referred the matter to the district attorney’s office.

The secretary was responsible for entering information into the state’s crime database, the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System, the audit says.

Because she telecommuted, the sheriff told auditors he took paperwork to the secretary’s home. But the secretary, also interviewed by auditors, provided a conflicting report: She said she picked up the reports at the sheriff’s office on nights and weekends, and sometimes took a sheriff’s department computer home to work. She told auditors she had been working 40 hours per week.

The chief deputy, who was in charge of reviewing and signing time sheets, told auditors that the secretary’s time sheets were rarely among those given to him for approval. When auditors presented him with her time sheets for a period of about a year through Feb. 13, 2010, the chief deputy “verified that in 23 instances his signature had been forged,” the audit says. The secretary earned more than $19,000 over those 23 pay periods.

The chief deputy “did not know who was signing his name on her time sheets before they were sent to the payroll department,” the audit says. “Furthermore, the chief deputy stated he had not seen or talked with this secretary in several years, except at the most recent Christmas party.”

Auditors checked with Overton and Clay counties, which also enter reports into the crime database. Those counties spent 5 to 10 hours per week on the task — the same job for which the secretary was garnering full-time pay.