Cookeville Fire Chiefs Double-Dipped, Stole $30,000 from Taxpayers, Audit Reveals


Authorities have indicted a Cookeville fire captain as well as a current one for allegedly taking money to which they weren’t entitled.

Tennessee Comptrollers released an investigative report this week identifying those two men as former Fire Captain Marvin Montgomery and current Cookeville Fire Captain Shawn Roberson. Both men worked at the Cookeville Fire Department and also instructed part-time at the Tennessee Fire and Codes Enforcement Academy in Bell Buckle, according to the Comptroller’s report.

“Investigators determined that Montgomery and Roberson effectively double dipped on their paychecks. They were each paid by both the city and the Academy for working the same hours at both locations,” according to the report.

“Montgomery obtained $32,212.75 in compensation from the Cookeville Fire Department that he was not entitled to. The investigation revealed that between January 1, 2017 and February 28, 2019, Montgomery claimed pay for 1,345 hours that he did not work. After the investigation began, Captain Montgomery retired from the fire department. At the time of his separation, the city collected $16,094.40 from Montgomery’s accrued leave balance. There remains an unpaid balance of $16,118.35 due to the city. Roberson improperly obtained $2,622.53 from the Cookeville Fire Department for 109.5 hours he did not work. This occurred between January 1, 2017 and February 28, 2019 when Roberson was serving as a lieutenant.”

In May 2021, the Putnam County Grand Jury indicted Montgomery on one count of theft more than $10,000, and Joseph Shawn Roberson on one count of theft more than $2,500, the report said.

Comptroller spokesman John Dunn told The Tennessee Star in an email Friday that members of his office do not make legal determinations about criminal activity.

“Based on the Grand Jury’s indictments, it’s clear the Putnam County Grand Jurors believe there is enough evidence that a crime was committed,” Dunn said.

Putnam County District Attorney Bryant C. Dunaway told The Star that his office is not prosecuting this case.

“I recused my office when the investigation began. The case is being handled by a Pro Tem prosecutor. The Pro Tem prosecutor in this matter is District Attorney General Jennings Jones whose office is in Murfreesboro TN,” Dunaway said in an email Friday.

Jones and members of his staff did not return a request for comment Friday.

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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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