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NewsChannel 5 Investigates: UCDD

UCDD Board Asks For Investigation Of Agency's Auditor

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By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The board that oversees the Upper Cumberland Development District is pointing the finger right at their own auditor. They want to know how he missed all the misspending uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

During an emergency meeting of the UCDD board Friday, that auditor faced a grilling, then had to sit there while the board voted to request a state investigation of his license.

"We never had a finding in 12 years until the media got involved," said Putnam County Executive Kim Blaylock.

Blaylock had a target for her ire, and he was sitting right at the table with the UCDD board.

For years, auditor Tom Jones had produced reports assuring board members that everything was OK with the agency's finances.

"Do you check for compliance with the bid laws?" Blaylock asked Jones.

"Yes," he answered.

A former auditor herself, Blaylock wanted to know how Jones could have missed what our investigation discovered -- hundreds of thousands of dollars of agency money going into a million-dollar dream home in rural Putnam County, along with other misuse of public funds.

So Blaylock moved to find new auditors and to request a state investigation into Jones' license to work as an accountant.

As a UCDD staff member called the roll, Jones had to sit there as the board put the blame on him.

"Motion carried," chairman Mike Foster announced.

And, with that, Jones left to now face his own professional problems.

"Well, he didn't uphold the standards and to hold a professional license in this state, you are ethically bound to do that -- so whatever happens," Blaylock said afterwards.

Among those attending, CPA Leisa Stanberry questioned why the board never noticed blatant mathematical errors in the audits.

"If these numbers do not tie out, add up, we have to look at everything then," Stanberry said. "We have to go deeper and dig deeper and find out why this isn't adding up."

That's why state auditors are now on a case that's getting more scrutiny than UCDD board members ever imagined.

E-mail: pwilliams@newschannel5.com

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