Former Fentress County Accounts Payable Clerk Allegedly Stole Nearly $240,000


A Fentress County employee allegedly stole nearly $240,000 from taxpayers, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

That woman, Kellye Crabtree, was an accounts payable clerk in the county’s Finance Department.

“Investigators determined that Crabtree stole at least $239,680.99 from the county between December 2014 and December 2018. The vast majority of the theft ($237,615.99) is associated with Crabtree’s use of a Walmart credit card that had been issued to Fentress County,” Comptrollers wrote in a press release.

“Crabtree purchased food, cigarettes, personal hygiene items, clothing, electronics, entertainment items, home items, phone cards, and prepaid Visa cards and gift cards using the Walmart credit card. None of these purchases were related to county business. Crabtree covered up the misappropriation by receiving all credit card statements, issuing payments, and manipulating the county’s accounting records and budget.”

Investigators determined that Crabtree served as treasurer for a community baseball league that accepted county money. Crabtree allegedly stole $2,065 from the league by writing unauthorized checks to herself, Comptrollers wrote.

“In many instances, investigators found that Crabtree signed other individual’s names on checks without their knowledge. The investigation began after finance department officials noticed questionable purchases that were being made on the county’s Walmart credit cards. The county terminated her employment on December 20, 2018,” according to the Comptrollers’ press release.

“On September 3, 2019, Kellye Crabtree was indicted by the Fentress County Grand Jury on one count of theft over $60,000.”

Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson said the theft is directly attributable to county officials giving one person too much control over county money.

“Financial duties must be separated between multiple people,” Wilson said.

“One person shouldn’t be able to issue purchase orders, make purchases, receive credit card statements, pay the bills, and maintain the accounting records without sufficient oversight.”

The investigation was limited to a review of selected records for the period of December 2015 through December of last year, according to the audit.

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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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