Sullivan County Official Stole Nearly $16,000, Audit Says

The former director of the Sullivan County Emergency Communications District stole district funds totaling nearly $17,000, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

This month a Sullivan County Grand Jury indicted that man, Isaac Lowry, on one count of theft over $10,000, according to a press release from Comptrollers.

The communications district provides enhanced 911 emergency telephone service for the Sullivan County area. The district’s board of directors asked members of the Comptroller’s Office to investigate, according to the press release.

“Investigators determined that Lowry stole district funds totaling at least $16,856 when he redeemed a whole life insurance policy which had been paid using district funds,” Comptrollers wrote.

“In August 2017, the board passed a motion to have Lowry either surrender the policy or compensate the district for the value of (the) policy. Instead, Lowry told investigators he redeemed the insurance policy for its cash value and placed the proceeds in an investment for himself.”

Those weren’t the only irregularities Comptrollers reported.

Vacation and sick leave balances for three current employees and the former director were improperly inflated, Comptrollers wrote.

“As of October 2017, these balances were inflated by a total of 2,272 hours, or 284 days, of vacation leave and 4,219 hours, or 527 days, of sick leave,” Comptrollers wrote.

Additional issues noted in the report include county officials spending at least $104,001 on 911 branded pens, rulers, cell phone pockets, hand sanitizer, and other assorted items for public education purposes.

“Investigators observed a storeroom full of these items that had accumulated over the years and were never distributed to the public,” Comptrollers wrote.

“Investigators also found that prior to 2016, district funds were spent on gifts, meals for board meetings, meals at Tri-City area restaurants, china table settings, silverware, and Christmas decorations.”

No one at Sullivan County Mayor Richard S. Venable’s office returned The Tennessee Star’s repeated requests for comment Tuesday.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]





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