published Friday, July 25th, 2014

Bessie Smith center getting independent audit, advice for better handling of finances

Bessie Smith Cultural Center
Bessie Smith Cultural Center
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

An independent auditing firm will review the financial records of Chattanooga's Bessie Smith Cultural Center over the next six weeks and offer recommendations for how the facility can improve its financial management and controls, according to a news release.

After the center hosted the Strut festival on June 9, officials there reported $88,932 missing.

A man who worked at the center, 35-year-old Torrey Hines, confessed to police later in the month that he stole cash from a desk drawer and sprayed racist graffiti on the walls to throw investigators off.

But Hines only admitted to taking about $42,400, and City Councilman Moses Freeman backed up Hines' story.

Bessie Smith Cultural Center director Rose Martin has repeatedly declined to comment on the issue.

See tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press for complete details.

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