Former development district director pleads guilty to stealing fed funds

Wendy Askins, the former director of the Upper Cumberland Development District, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon in a federal courtroom to two counts of theft from the federally-funded agency, reports WTVF-TV.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says Askins admits that she used funding from the Upper Cumberland Development District to buy property that she claimed would serve as a senior living facility called “Living the Dream.”

Instead, she made tens of thousands of dollars of upgrades to the residence — like converting a bedroom into a tanning bed and installing a double-winding staircase. At that point in 2012, News Channel 5 started an investigation, which led law enforcement to get involved.

Prosecutors say Askins tried to hide where some $233,000 came from by telling an employee to falsify minutes of a board meeting.

The 55-year-old from Red Boiling Springs is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court at the end of October by Judge Aleta Trauger. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.

Askins’ assistant — Larry Webb — already pleaded guilty to bank fraud this month and should be sentenced in September.