JELLICO, Tenn. — A former city recorder in this Campbell County town took nearly $100,000 in public funds for personal use, state officials charge, in the latest of unfortunate occurrences for town leaders.
Linda Douglas, who has since been relieved of her duties, was indicted last month by a Campbell County grand jury on charges of theft over $60,000 and official misconduct. District attorney general Lori Phillips-Jones sought the indictment after being informed of Douglas's alleged misdeeds by investigators from the state comptroller's office.
Those investigators allege that Douglas misspent the town's money in a variety of ways over a two-year period: pocketing $80,000 in cash and checks collected from Jellico citizens while also receiving unauthorized payroll checks and reimbursement for unauthorized travel expenses and fuel purchases.
In all, Douglas took $96,449.62, investigators allege.
In an investigative report released Thursday morning by state comptroller Justin P. Wilson, a number of problems were noted with Jellico's accounting and management practices.
One example was that Douglas was able to make the alleged thefts of funds because she was given sole responsibility for receiving checks and cash, maintaining accounting records and depositing the money she collected. The comptroller's office routinely recommends that municipal and county governments divide those duties among multiple employees to provide an internal system of checks and balances.
Other problems noted by the report included poor recordkeeping of financial transactions, deficiencies in purchasing procedures and a lack of written policies for garbage fee collections and cellular telephone use by city employees.
"It is very troubling to me that our investigators identified so many issues with the way the city of Jellico is being run," Wilson said. "The city has had its share of financial problems over the last few years and those problems have been made worse by questionable spending and outright misappropriation of public funds.
"I hope city officials will take the corrective steps we have suggested in our report to reduce the likelihood these problems will happen again in the future," Wilson added.
The comptroller's office encourages citizens who suspect any fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee to contact a tip hotline at 800-232-5454.