Tennessee Comptrollers: Former County Mayor Tried to Hide Wife’s Role in Auto Accident

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Former Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith filed a false accident claim after his wife was involved in an auto accident in May 2018 while she drove a county-owned vehicle, according to Tennessee Comptrollers.

Comptrollers did not identify the former county mayor by name in a report they submitted this week.

“An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office revealed the mayor reported the accident to the county’s insurance provider stating that he was driving the vehicle. At the time of the accident, the mayor’s wife’s driver’s license had been suspended due to numerous traffic citations,” Comptrollers said in an emailed press release.

“The cost to repair the vehicle totaled $4,024.47. The insurance provider paid $3,524.47, and Haywood County paid the $500 insurance deductible to a local body shop.”

Investigators also identified other instances when the former county mayor allowed his wife to use his assigned county-owned vehicle for her personal use. This included a traffic stop on July 24, 2018, when the Jackson Police Department issued the former mayor’s wife a traffic citation for driving on a suspended license and the failure to maintain a single lane, the press release said.

According to the report, county employees, a local citizen, and video/audio that a law enforcement officer recorded at a traffic stop corroborated that the county’s mayor’s wife drove the county-owned vehicle.

“As part of our investigation, we learned that Haywood County did not have an official vehicle use policy,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in the press release.

“I recommend that county officials develop a policy to provide guidance and require that county vehicles should only be used for official business.”

Haywood County is located in West Tennessee. The county seat is Brownsville. A 20-member county commission acts as the county’s legislative body. The county mayor serves as its chief executive officer.

Franklin Smith, a Democrat, served as Haywood County mayor for 14 years from 2004 to 2018.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith” by SWTDD.

 

 

 

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