Former clerk accused of stealing $5,400 of Cleveland Utility funds
In Bradley County, officials with Cleveland Utilities are changing the way employees purchase items with utility funds.
This comes after an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller's Office found a former employee spent more than $5,000 of utility money on herself.
The Cleveland Utility System now uses an independent inventory system to track inventory and employees have received additional training for purchasing and inventory.
The clerk at the center of the investigation, who has not been named publicly, was fired in May 2018.
Purses, headphones, wireless speakers, even woodworking tools.
They are just some of the 92 items investigators with Tennessee's Comptroller's Office said an informational technology clerk with Cleveland Utilities bought with money that wasn't hers.
"The clerk was allowed to initiate the purchase requests for this property. She was allowed to them pay for the property through the invoice system. She was receiving the property. When one person like that has total control, it's very easy for someone to get away with fraud and not be detected," John Dunn said.
Dunn is the Public Information Officer with Tennessee's Comptroller's Office said lack of oversight and failure to separate financial duties contributed to the theft.
Investigators said the spending went on for eight months between 2017 and 2018 racking up a bill of at least $5,400 for personal use.
Investigators believe she falsified purchasing documents by providing inaccurate descriptions of the items she bought and used the utility's tax exempt status to avoid paying sales taxes.
"No one took the next step to review that documentation to show that what she was purchasing was actual items that would benefit the utility," Dunn added.
The Comptroller's Office sent their findings to District Attorney Steve Crump.
Crump tells Channel 3 he is currently reviewing the report and is working with the TBI and Cleveland Police to determine how to move forward.
If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee, call the Comptroller's toll-free hotline at (800) 232-5454, or file a report online HERE.