Tennessee Mayor Knowingly Took Nearly $30,000 in Unauthorized Health Benefits, Report Says

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Officials have indicted the former mayor of Decherd, in Franklin County, on one count of theft of more than $10,000 and three counts of official misconduct.

That man, Robin Smith, received $27,176 in unauthorized health insurance benefits from the city from January 2016 through July 2019.

This, according to a report that Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

According to the report, the city provides various benefits to full-time employees including health insurance. The city’s board of mayor and aldermen, however, are not full-time employees.

“In October 2015, former city Mayor Robin Smith told the city administrator and the city bookkeeper he qualified as a full-time city employee and was therefore eligible for city-provided health insurance. Based upon his representations, the bookkeeper placed Smith on the city’s health insurance plan. From January 2016 through July 2019, the city paid at least $27,176 for Smith’s health insurance benefits,” Comptrollers wrote in their report.

“Smith admitted to investigators that he needed health insurance, and he knew he was not eligible for city- provided health insurance benefits when he told the city administrator and city bookkeeper that he was eligible.”

In November 2019, a majority of the aldermen voted to pay 50 percent of the health insurance premium, not to exceed $325 per month, for elected officials. Prior to that month, the city did not offer insurance to the mayor, Comptrollers wrote.

In their report, Comptrollers said the city’s Board of Aldermen did not provide adequate oversight over the administration of health insurance benefits and did not establish internal controls to ensure that health insurance was provided only to eligible employees and officials.

“The city administrator did not provide adequate oversight to ensure accountability of city funds. The city administrator failed to ensure health insurance benefits were provided only to eligible employees and officials,” Comptrollers wrote.

“Without adequate oversight, the mayor was able to assign health insurance benefits to himself without proper approval by the Board of Aldermen for 43 months. City officials indicated that they have corrected these deficiencies.”

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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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