Former Anderson County, Tennessee Schools Employee Allegedly Stole More Than $23,000

 

Anderson County officials have indicted a former school office assistant for allegedly stealing more than $20,000 from a fund set up to help needy students.

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

The indicted woman, Heather Heatherly, worked in the Anderson County Schools Office of Student Services. The Office of Student Services uses school funds to purchase food, clothing, and minor household items for students in need. Comptrollers initiated the investigation after school officials reported unauthorized purchases charged to the school’s purchasing card. They limited the investigation to selected records for the period from February 2018 through December 2019, according to the report.

“Heatherly purchased the necessary items and began paying for the items using a VISA P-Card in February 2018. Heatherly used the P-card to make unauthorized purchases totaling at least $23,311 including purses, watches, and other personal items for her own use, enjoyment, and benefit,” according to the audit.

“To conceal these misappropriations, Heatherly altered invoices to hide the description of the items and her personal residence as the shipping address. She also used an unauthorized ink stamp to place the Office of Student Services’ director’s signature on purchasing documents.”

School system officials suspended Heatherly without pay in January 2020 and terminated her in May of that year.

Comptrollers said in their report that Anderson County Schools officials did not properly oversee school system operations and did not establish internal controls to protect school funds.

“School officials are responsible for designing internal controls to give reasonable assurance of the reliability of financial reporting and the effectiveness and efficiency of operations. Providing adequate oversight and establishing internal controls reduces the risks that errors or intentional misappropriations will remain undetected,” according to the audit.

“School officials failed to adequately review purchase documentation including purchase orders, invoices, and partial delivery reports; and failed to adequately segregate duties. This deficiency allowed Heatherly’s misappropriations to remain undetected for more than a year.”

Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star and The Georgia Star News. Follow Chris on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, and GETTR. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Courtroom” by Karen Neoh. CC BY 2.0.

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