The Tennessee Comptroller's Office says that the litter patrol in Claiborne County has been pocketing funds from scrap metal sales in violation of state law | Photo: TN Comptroller

TAZEWELL, Tenn. — Claiborne County jail inmates and sheriff’s litter patrol officers pocketed more than $20,000 from selling scrap metal, according to an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

The office of Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said Friday that an investigation found the inmates and officers pocketed $23,763.18 in cash from selling scrap metal.

Investigators reviewed records from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018; however, sheriff’s littler patrol officers and inmates reportedly told investigators it was a long-established practice for the litter patrol to collect scrap metal and sell it to buy inmates lunches, snacks, drinks and tobacco products.

State law requires that payments for scrap metal sold by a government entity be made by check or money order to the governmental entity and mailed to the business address of the governmental entity.

According to the comptroller’s office, “the failure to follow state law has resulted in lost revenue for the county.”

The comptroller turned over the findings of its investigation to the office of 8th Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler.

The Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office is currently depositing checks from the sale of scrap metal with the county trustee, Wilson’s office said. 

The comptroller’s office encourages the public to report suspicion of fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee by calling 800-232-5454 or filing a report online at comptroller.tn.gov/hotline.