Comptroller: Nearly $145K Stolen from Jefferson Co Finance Office by Employee

Press release from Office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury; November 12, 2014:

A special report from the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury reveals that $144,797.95 was stolen from Jefferson County by a former employee of the Finance Office. The Comptroller’s Office coordinated its investigation with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Teresa Crusenberry used county funds to pay her personal credit cards and other vendor accounts. Auditors found that Crusenberry issued 98 county checks to pay these balances over a period of more than three years.

In an apparent effort to conceal the theft, the accounting records had been altered so the name of the payee on the records was often different from the name of the actual payee on the check.

Auditors are awaiting documentation from other vendors, which could result in an additional amount of stolen money.

Teresa Crusenberry’s employment was terminated on March 20, 2014 shortly after the scheme was uncovered. She was indicted by the Jefferson County Grand Jury on one count of theft over $60,000 and official misconduct on August 25, 2014. She is awaiting trial on those charges.

Comptroller auditors found a lack of management oversight, the failure to adequately separate money handling duties, and a software weakness allowing the payee’s name to be changed on the accounting records contributed to the opportunity for the theft to occur.

Jefferson County’s finance director has indicated insurance will be used to cover the loss of taxpayer dollars.

“This is another shameful example of a government employee taking advantage of weaknesses in internal controls to abuse the public’s trust,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “I sincerely hope Jefferson County will correct the issues in its finance department and work to recover the stolen money.”

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