Tag Archives: hamblen

Audit Finds Humane Society Employee Stole $51K

News release from state comptroller’s office:
An employee of the Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society altered receipts to conceal the theft of $51,130 from the organization’s adoption fees and other funds, an audit by the Comptroller’s Division of Investigation has revealed.
Receipts in the humane society’s computer system were backdated – up to 11 years before the installation of the computer system – so they would not be included in daily collection reports. That meant money from adoption fees and other sources didn’t appear in the organization’s records. Investigators concluded that money was stolen by the employee, who was later fired.
Investigative auditors reviewed records from July 1, 2009 through October 31, 2011 after Hamblen County officials discovered the altered receipts from collections were not deposited into the humane society’s bank accounts. The stolen funds should have been used to operate the animal shelter, enforce animal control ordinances and conduct animal cruelty investigations.
The employee involved had been responsible for gathering collections, matching collections with receipts and delivering those collections to the bookkeeper for deposit. During questioning by investigators, the employee admitted to backdating one receipt to “borrow” $120. The employee refused to speak with investigators after being fired.
Investigators also found weaknesses in the humane society’s accounting and record-keeping procedures, which made the theft easier to conceal.
“It is very important that there is an appropriate amount of oversight when public funds are being accepted, recorded and spent or deposited,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Putting too many responsibilities in the hands of one individual without that kind of oversight can create situations that are ripe for fraud or abuse. It is very unfortunate in this case that money that could have been used to help stray and abused animals in Hamblen County isn’t available for that purpose because of this.”
The Comptroller’s Division of Investigation has forwarded copies of its report and supporting information to the Office of the District Attorney, Third Judicial District.
To view the report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/

State Undercounting Drug Overdose Deaths

Eddie Davis takes notes at every death scene in Hamblen County. He’s served as coroner for 20 years. He counted 28 fatal drug overdoses in his county two years ago. The Tennessee Department of Health counted six.
More from Matt Lakin’s story:
“I don’t know how they’re keeping their numbers, but that’s ridiculous,” Davis said.
“They’re at least three or four times off. We’re a county of a little over 50,000 people, and we’re averaging about one case a week of either suspected or known overdoses. We had 53 last year. In the first nine months of this year we had 43. We’ve had about 250 in the past 10 years, and the number’s growing.”
He and others believe Tennessee’s system of reporting and investigating deaths grossly undercounts the number of fatal overdoses each year. The critics range from police to medical professionals, who say the official numbers paint a shallow portrait of the state’s most deadly drug problem.
“We don’t have a consistent system of reporting,” said Elizabeth Sherrod, coordinator of the Tennessee Drug Diversion Task Force. “We don’t have a clear picture, because there’s no agency tracking that. It is a money issue. If police or a family don’t get an autopsy done, we don’t have that information. If we could just get toxicology screens done in every (death) case, I think we would see we’re not too far behind Florida, and they’re losing seven people a day.”
Numbers like those would translate to more than 2,500 deaths a year, shoving car wrecks aside and placing overdoses close behind heart disease and cancer as one of the state’s top killers. Police say they’ve known it for years — and been waiting for an outcry that never came