Report: $700,000 stolen from Tennessee counties

Report: $700,000 stolen from Tennessee counties

April 14th, 2011 by Andy Sher in News

NASHVILLE - A new state comptroller's report says more than $700,000 in taxpayer funds were stolen from county governments in Tennessee during the fiscal year that ended last June 30.

Among the cases was a scandal involving the Marion County Election Commission and Haletown Volunteer Fire Department that resulted in the indictment last year of former Marion County Election Administrator Holly Henegar and her husband, Billy Joe, on theft charges.

Holly Henegar was also charged with official misconduct.

The comptroller's report lists $21,170 missing from the Marion County Election Commission and another $94,823 from the Haletown Volunteer Fire Department where Billy Joe Henegar served as treasurer.

That collectively accounted for as much as 16.5 percent of last year's thefts from county governments or related entities.

"These cases of theft are disappointing," Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a news release. "It is particularly frustrating because many times thefts could have been avoided if the counties had better procedures for money handling and record keeping."

Wilson said such "internal controls" are "essential for government officials who want to be good stewards of their taxpayers' money."

Neither Hamilton nor Bradley counties were listed in the report.

Holly Henegar resigned in April 2010 after a former elections office worker filed a complaint alleging financial improprieties. The state comptroller's office released a report in August 2010 stating that she had asked several people to participate in a scheme to funnel money to Billy Henegar, who was disabled, according to newspaper archives.

The comptroller's original audit says Holly Henegar "admitted adding names to payroll certification lists for individuals who did not work, and that her husband was paid with county funds using names of relatives and friends."

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Turner said the cases have yet to come to court. The cases are different and the Henegars will be tried separately, he said.