Audit: Jackson School Official Stole Nearly $16,000

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The former bookkeeper at West Bemis Middle School in Jackson stole at least $15,908 from the school last year, according to an audit the Tennessee Comptrollers’ Office released this week.

That woman, Judy Hale, failed to deposit cash from candy, T-shirt, cookie dough, and discount card fundraisers, Comptrollers said.

Instead, Hale kept the money for her personal benefit, the report said.

The Tennessee Star was unable to reach Hale for comment Wednesday. She appeared to have no social media accounts. No one at a phone number listed for a Judy Hale out of Jackson answered our phone calls.

“Investigators were unable to account for an additional $6,475 that was collected from fundraising activities but not deposited. Hale did not prepare and keep detailed records of these collections, and investigators were not able to definitively determine who was responsible for this shortfall,” according to the audit.

“Additionally, Hale used a school credit card to make unauthorized personal purchases including pet supplies, fuel, tires, hair dye, and grocery items. She also improperly utilized the school’s tax-exempt status to avoid sales taxes on purchases. She failed to pay the balance of the card on time, which resulted in a large unpaid balance, interest, and late fees.”

The school suspended Hale without pay. She subsequently retired from the Jackson-Madison County School System.

The Madison County Grand Jury indicted her last month for one count of theft over $10,000, according to a press release.

School system spokeswoman Keli McCalister told The Star Wednesday she had little to say about the case, as it is ongoing.

“It was a member of our district’s fiscal service team that actually caught that financial discrepancy,” McCalister said.

“That person immediately notified the police department and that investigation began by local law enforcement and the state and it ended with that indictment earlier this month.”

McCalister said school system officials have put in a more stringent system of checks and balances.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.
Photo “West Bemis Middle School” by jmcss.org/bemis.

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. […] examples of government waste, fraud, and abuse include a Jackson school official who Comptrollers say stole nearly $16,000 from the school system and used it for her own […]

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