A Sullivan County-based nonprofit that accepted taxpayer money went against state policies and hired a convicted felon and another person who was a registered sex offender, according a report Tennessee Comptrollers released last week.
That nonprofit, John R. Hay House, Inc., accepted funding through the Tennessee Department of Correction.
According to the Comptroller’s report, JRHH assists people with criminal records who reside in the upper east Tennessee area.
But the organization employed the director’s son-in-law, a convicted felon, according to Comptrollers.
“JRHH and TDOC records indicate that the JRHH director’s son-in-law began working for JRHH in December 1997. The son-in-law worked at JRHH as a transportation officer until March 1, 2000, when he was hired by TDOC as a corrections officer. On July 27, 2000, TDOC terminated the director’s son-in-law due to his admission of smuggling a knife to an inmate and either paying or promising to pay the inmate to harm another inmate. These actions led to his termination and criminal charges. The director’s son-in-law subsequently pleaded guilty to attempted second degree murder (solicitation), a Class C felony,” according to the report.
“On February 17, 2014, JRHH again employed the son-in-law, this time as a case officer, and he eventually rose to become the JRHH facilities manager. In each of these positions, the director’s son-in-law had supervisory responsibilities over inmates, and was paid with TDOC grant funds during the period of our investigation.”
According to the signed TDOC grant contract for fiscal years 2018-2019, JRHH officials were supposed to do background checks on its staff.
“Because the JRHH facilities manager is the director’s son-in-law, it is likely the director was aware of his son-in-law’s criminal history, and that he knew a background check would reflect a criminal charge. JRHH employing the director’s son-in-law may have put the safety of JRHH offenders and other employees at risk,” Comptrollers wrote.
The JRHH director’s son-in-law was also indicted for theft while working for the nonprofit and received questionable compensation, according to the report.
“On January 23, 2019, the JRHH director’s son-in-law was indicted on five counts of theft of $1,000 or less. The indictment arose from several incidents in February and March 2018, when the director’s son-in-law and an offender housed at JRHH allegedly took items from a Kingsport, Tennessee store without purchase or permission,” according to Comptrollers.
“These acts occurred while the director’s son-in-law was purchasing supplies for JRHH. The director’s son-in-law was arrested for the alleged thefts on April 19, 2018 and was released later that day. Police reports document the JRHH director was present when his son-in-law surrendered to police.”
JRHH continued to pay the director’s son-in-law after his initial arrest until he was terminated in June 2018, the report said.
Comptrollers also said JRHH employed a registered sex offender between August 2018 through October of that year.
“Although JRHH did not pay the sex offender/employee from the TDOC grant, as a JRHH employee, he likely had regular interactions with and supervisory roles over TDOC offenders,” Comptrollers wrote.
“The hiring of this employee by JRHH may have put the safety of JRHH offenders and other employees at risk.”
JRHH ceased operations in June of last year, Comptrollers wrote.
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