An investigation in Tennessee has found that an accountant stole almost $1 million from an energy co-operative.

The state comptroller's probe says former Volunteer Energy Cooperative accountant Jason Kittle was indicted for theft Monday in Meigs County.

Investigators found Kittle made more than 240 unauthorized payments totaling at least $735,300 to his personal account. It also found Kittle made 200-plus payments totaling $229,200 to a personal credit card account, and at least 48 payments worth a total of $38,300 to a relative's credit card.

Investigators determined that Kittle stole at least $994,981 between June 2011 and December 2017. Kittle used three schemes to steal VEC money for his personal use:

  • Kittle stole $735,318 by making 242 transfers from a VEC account to his personal bank account
  • Kittle stole $229,293 by making 204 payments to his personal credit card account
  • Kittle stole $30,368 by making 48 payments to a credit card account in the name of a family member

The co-op's David Murphy says they went to police after discovering accounting issues in December. Kittle was fired in January after admitting to the personal credit card payments.

The Decatur-based cooperative serves 96,000-plus members across 12 counties. Murphy says internal controls have been added.

“This is one of the largest cases of theft that we have investigated,” said Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “However, the weaknesses that allowed this activity to occur are not unusual. Financial responsibilities must be separated between multiple individuals, so that one person isn’t recording financial information and reconciling bank statements without oversight.”

In November 2018, Jason Kittle was indicted by the Meigs County Grand Jury on one count of theft over $250,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.