Former Tennessee Nonprofit Employee Allegedly Used Nearly $12,000 of Taxpayer Money on Himself


A former employee of a Rhea County-based nonprofit allegedly used nearly $12,000 of taxpayer money on himself.

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

That man, Reynaldo Rivera, worked as a maintenance technician for the Dayton-based Rhea of Sunshine (ROS), Inc. ROS assists people with disabilities. ROS is primarily funded by the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), according to the comptrollers’ report.

Comptrollers reported that Rivera allegedly used ROS money to buy vehicle parts for his personal use totaling at least $11,871.

“Rivera engaged in a fraudulent purchasing scheme where he obtained vehicle parts using ROS’s O’Reilly Auto Parts and Advance Auto Parts vendor accounts and used the parts for his personal vehicles and for his private automotive repair business,” comptrollers reported.

“Rivera used ROS’s vendor accounts to purchase vehicle parts for vehicles that were not in ROS’s fleet. For instance, Rivera purchased multiple parts for a Chevrolet El Camino, which he was personally restoring.”

Comptrollers said Rivera falsified invoices to carry out his alleged scheme. Rivera allegedly wrote ROS vehicle descriptions on invoices to identify the vehicle for the purchase, but the parts identified on the invoices would not fit those vehicles.

“Rivera misused ROS’s tax-exempt certificate when he made personal purchases using ROS’s vendor accounts. He failed to pay sales tax totaling at least $1,157 on the purchase of items that he did not use for ROS purposes,” Comptrollers said in their report.

“Rivera acknowledged to investigators that he charged purchases of vehicle parts for his personal vehicles and for his private automotive repair business to ROS’s accounts without the knowledge or authority of his supervisor. Rivera resigned on January 23, 2019, prior to the start of the investigation.”

Rhea of Sunshine, according to its LinkedIn page, has operated since 1986 and has at least 26 former and current employees.

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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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3 Thoughts to “Former Tennessee Nonprofit Employee Allegedly Used Nearly $12,000 of Taxpayer Money on Himself”

  1. 83ragtop50

    Why does so much tax dollars go to these types of operations? Sure sounds like welfare and income redistribution. Maybe I need to declare myself a nonprofit. I should qualify because my taxes keep going up and up now to the point that I am having to dip into my life savings to get by.

    1. Randy

      There are more than 3500 registered non profits in Knox County TN. Most of them thrive on government funding. Many of them have leadership teams making six and seven figure salaries. The incentive for fraud is great. Competition for tax dollars is a business in and of itself. We have a non profit that was established to teach other non profits how to get more taxpayer funding. One non profit that over billed Tenn Care more than 7 million dollars, because of the head honcho’s relationship with a US Senator they were given a pass on any fines and rather than returning the money in 30 days IAW state law. They were given 5 years to repay. Of course they are still being funded by government. Another non profit that received grant funding from the state department of education because the head of the organization was pals with the State legislature. They mysteriously received 5 thousand dollars from another non profit that does not have any record of the transaction. Elected officials give money away and in return they solidify a voting block for their next re-election. Public funding of non profits should be a personal choice not taken under the threat of force.

      1. 83ragtop50

        Randy, I have puzzled over the government funding of nonprofits for years. It is apparent, as you state, that the grants are frequently used to buy votes. Why is MY government taking my money and giving it to anyone else? Just socialism at its basic level. I am a charitable person and give directly to worthy organizations so I am not without compassion.

        I figure most uninformed persons just hear the label “nonprofit” and assume that those running such operations are volunteers who work for little to no pay. But as you point out many of the administrators of these groups take home HUGE salaries.