Audit Accuses Carter County Teacher of Stealing Thousands

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Authorities have accused a Carter County teacher of taking nearly $2,000 of school money and spending it on himself.

That teacher, John-Claude Hardin, allegedly misappropriated at least $1,865.

Hardin taught at Unaka High School, part of the Carter County School System, the audit said.

“The investigation was initiated after school officials identified and reported shortages in cash collections. The results of the investigation were communicated with the Office of the District Attorney General of the 1st Judicial District,” according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

“The school’s Career Technical Education (CTE) department operated a meat processing program where customers brought livestock to the school to be slaughtered by students. The customers paid a fee to the school for this service. The school also raised cattle on a farm the CTE department operated.”

Comptrollers said that during the period November 13, 2017, through November 20, 2018, Hardin misappropriated CTE funds totaling at least $1,865 from the school using two schemes.

Hardin allegedly withheld cash collections from meat processing fees totaling $1,229 and sold a steer from the school farm without authorization and retained the sale proceeds of $636. To conceal his misappropriations, Hardin allegedly altered receipts and created false documentation, Comptrollers wrote.

Specifically, among only a few examples:

• On or about November 13, 2017, a customer paid $131 cash for meat processing to Hardin who prepared a receipt and gave a copy of the receipt to the customer. Hardin allegedly did not deposit the cash with the school bookkeeper; therefore, the cash was never recorded in the school’s accounting system.

• On March 7, 2018, a customer paid $759 cash for meat processing to Hardin’s school aide. The aide advised that Hardin instructed her to prepare a receipt and hide the cash in a money bag under a sofa cushion in his office. According to Comptrollers, Hardin admitted he placed the money bag in the safe but claimed he did not know what subsequently happened to the money. To conceal this misappropriation, Hardin allegedly marked “VOID” on the receipt and made a note to indicate the receipt should have been listed under a different name.

• On October 30, 2018, a customer paid $339 cash for meat processing to Hardin who then prepared a receipt and placed the cash in his pocket. According to Comptrollers, Hardin told investigators he did not know what subsequently happened to the cash. To conceal this misappropriation, Hardin allegedly wrote “VOID” on the receipt and made a note to indicate the receipt should have been listed under a different name.

According to Comptrollers, school officials failed to review CTE receipts and did not reconcile those receipts with the collections remitted to the school bookkeeper.

“The failure to review and reconcile receipts with deposits increased the risk that errors or misappropriations would not be detected timely,” Comptrollers wrote.

“School officials indicated that they have corrected or will correct this internal control deficiency.”

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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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