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DA Still Investigating Davidson County Clerk for Misconduct

Statement from Davidson County District Attorney; Jan. 25, 2012:

Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson today confirmed that he has received the State Comptroller’s audit of the Davidson County Clerk’s office. Johnson requested that audit, along with a TBI investigation, in July 2011, as a result of news stories and anonymous allegations to the DA’s office of improprieties within the Clerk’s office.

“This has been an extensive and time-intensive investigation,” Johnson says. “It has required the review of a considerable number of records and files. Dozens of people have been interviewed during this process. Our office has been in frequent contact with both agencies as this investigation has continued.”

Johnson says he recently received the completed TBI investigative file of its findings and is in the process of reviewing it. “Because this is still an on-going investigation, we can’t speak to any specifics at this stage,” Johnson says. “Our office is reviewing the information gathered by both the TBI and the State Comptroller’s office to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to warrant action by our office.”

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County Corrections Agency

Hickman County officials should tighten control over the jail commissary, auditors said in a recent report on county finances, after finding the fund was in the red amid sloppy paperwork and management — in some cases, an inmate was issuing receipts for collections.

According to paperwork sheriff’s department officials provided, the inmates’ accounts had a negative balance of $7,500. For more than two dozen transactions totaling $4,100, there was no supporting documentation.

The findings were presented in a state comptroller’s office audit of county finances in fiscal year 2010.

The audit also said that no one at the county, its Health Foundation or school system has shown they can produce financial statements that comply with generally accepted accounting principles.

Auditors summarized some earlier work, which uncovered wrongdoing by Hickman officials.

The Hickman County Clerk’s office had a cash shortage of $4,600 as of mid-June, after state auditors discovered then-County Clerk Andrea Totty had manipulated the checking system to steal cash from the office.

Investigators also found that Totty had used her office to get free car tag renewals for herself and a friend, and that she’d taken an office computer home for her personal use.

Totty admitted to taking funds for her personal use and resigned in the wake of the investigation.

But she was not the only local official caught abusing her office.

The director of the Emergency Management Agency, Terry Cloud, and Emergency Medical Services, Michael Lynn, were found to have misappropriated drugs and supplies for their personal use.

Both pleaded guilty last year to official misconduct, but no restitution has been paid, and both employees are still on leave, the auditor’s report says.

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Education NewsTracker Tax and Budget

Booster Club Boo Boo in Robertson Co.

Robertson County Schools paid more than $100,000 on loans taken out by booster clubs to improve athletic fields, bypassing the county’s usual purchasing and budget process, state auditors found. The booster clubs, instead of the schools administration, were in charge of making payments to vendors.

Because the booster clubs are not subject to audits – the rest of the county government is – “the proper use of these funds could not be determined,” according to an audit by the state Comptroller of Robertson County’s finances in fiscal year 2010.

Schools management said they were not aware they were doing anything wrong but have been assured the funds were used properly for athletics facilities and that they have corrected the problem.

Auditors also faulted the way the schools system accounted for federal stimulus funds — the schools department lumped the funds in with other money instead of accounting for them separately. They also highlighted a weakness in the way the Sanitation Department handles cash. The department set up separate cash drawers for each employee after $200 went missing last July. The department director replaced the money with his personal funds, the audit says.

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Business and Economy Environment and Natural Resources NewsTracker Tax and Budget Transparency and Elections

Shoddy Work, Mismanagement Plague Federal Stimulus Program

Shoddy work, waste and sloppy paperwork are hampering Tennessee’s federal stimulus program to make low-income homes more energy efficient, the state Comptroller has found.

Contractors failed to properly install window screens and insulation and performed cosmetic work that did nothing to improve energy efficiency, according to the Comptroller’s report issued today on the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program.

The program had previously topped out at $8.5 million but ballooned to $106 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress in 2009 to boost the economy.

Of the 444 homes that auditors reviewed, 233 of them had problems ranging from incomplete documentation to unauthorized contractors performing energy audits, according to the report. The auditors visited 84 homes and found problems with the workmanship, including unnecessary or flawed work, in 38.

From its letter to Department of Human Services Commissioner Virginia Lodge:

“In light of the numerous problems we noted in our field work, we wanted to advise you of our preliminary findings so that appropriate corrective actions could be initiated as soon as practicable. Our discussion of these preliminary findings regarding (the program) raises substantial concerns.”