Former Cagle-Fredonia Utility District manager charged with theft of $33,000

Former Cagle-Fredonia Utility District manager charged with theft of $33,000

June 9th, 2011 by Ben Benton in News

Charlotte Turner is the former manager and bookkeeper for the Cagle Fredonia Utility District in Sequatchie County. She was arrested after a state audit showed she allegedly misappropriated almost $33,000 in ratepayer funds. Contributed photo

An state audit of records at Sequatchie County's Cagle-Fredonia Utility District landed former utility office manager Charlotte Turner in jail on charges of stealing almost $33,000 from the utility.

Turner, 43, of state Highway 108 in Whitwell, Tenn., is accused of misappropriating $32,849 between April 1, 2009, and Jan. 31, 2011, according to an audit released Wednesday by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury's Division of Municipal Audit. Turner was indicted in May on a charge of theft over $10,000, auditors said.

Document: Cagle Fredonia Exhibit

Exhibit in case against Charlotte Turner

Document: Cagle Fredonia Audit

Audit document

"Ms. Turner admitted she had misappropriated the utility district collections," state auditor Dennis F. Dycus said in the audit, regarding her interview with state officials.

Turner is free on a $7,500 property bond and is set to appear June 27 in Sequatchie County Circuit Court, according to jail officials.

Turner could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Her telephone number in Marion County had been disconnected.

Comptroller's office spokesman Blake Fontenay said Turner had access to money that was supposed to be deposited in the bank.

"Since Turner was the district's sole employee responsible for receiving collections, logging computer records of those collections, preparing deposits, delivering deposits to the bank and reconciling bank statements, she was in position to steal cash collections without being noticed by other district employees," Fontenay said.

Other findings showed some collections were not deposited for several weeks and not all were deposited in the same form as they were collected.

"Turner routinely prepared separate bank deposits for cash collections and check collections, facilitating her misappropriation of utility district funds," the audit states.

Assistant District Attorney Steve Strain said Wednesday that the charge is a felony that would carry a sentence of three to six years if she is convicted.

Strain said the June 27 hearing will be Turner's first appearance for arraignment.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at 423-757-6569 or bbenton@timesfreepress.com.