Tennessee Comptrollers are investigating the Hamblen County Trustee’s Office, according to a document they released this week — but they won’t talk specifics.
Comptrollers would only say they are investigating the county’s Trustee Department. They said they will publish any findings in a future report.
County Mayor Bill Brittain told The Tennessee Star Thursday he had no comment.
“We have been advised not to discuss the situation further because it is an on-going investigation,” Brittain said in an emailed statement.
Brittain attached a document to the email he sent The Star. The document was a letter from County Trustee John Baskette saying the investigation “relates to the timeliness of deposits made by the office.”
“It is an ongoing investigation and no conclusions have been reached,” Baskette said.
“The Trustee’s Office is fully cooperating with it.”
This is not the first time Comptrollers have taken Hamblen County to task for alleged wrongdoing.
As The Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2015, Ronald Brady, the county’s former solid waste director, allegedly took more than $227,000 from taxpayers and spent it on, among other things, a trip to Disney World.
“Brady admitted to also using the money for other personal expenses, including service on his BMW, according to an audit Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson released that year.
Investigators said that for three years Brady took system funds using several schemes. He also allegedly used the solid waste system’s American Express card to charge at least $31,785 in personal purchases, including on a mattress delivered to his home.
As The Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2013, an employee of the taxpayer-subsidized Humane Society in Tennessee allegedly altered receipts to conceal the theft of more than $50,000.
As the time, the Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society received more than 72 percent of its funding from Hamblen County and the city of Morristown, the county seat.
The comptroller’s report found fault with the Humane Society’s accounting and record-keeping procedures, which made it easier for the accused worker to take money.
The money should have been used to operate the animal shelter, enforce animal control ordinances and conduct animal cruelty investigations, according to Comptrollers.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Bill Brittain” by Bill Brittain. Background Photo “Hamblen County Courthouse” by Brian Stansberry. CC BY 3.0.