published Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Chattanooga police arrest Bessie Smith Cultural Center employee for $60,000 theft

Two weeks after close to $60,000 in cash went missing from the Bessie Smith Cultural Center following a community festival, police have arrested a center employee for his alleged role in the heist.

Torrey Lamar Hines, 35, is charged with burglary, vandalism and theft over $50,000. He turned himself in this afternoon.

The money stolen was revenue from the June 9 Bessie Smith Strut which took place on M.L. King Boulevard outside the center. Proceeds were placed in a desk drawer at the center.

Sometime in the early morning of June 10, the money disappeared and graffiti showed up on the walls.

The thief spray-painted white supremacist symbols inside the center during the theft to give it the appearance of a hate crime, but investigators said they found it strange that the vandalism did not damage items of value.

Police said Hines returned part of the money but that a portion of it has already been spent.

For more details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.

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