Audit Finds Misspending Inside UCDD Sister Agency - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: UCDD

Audit Finds Misspending Inside UCDD Sister Agency

Posted: Updated:

By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --  Another Cookeville-based government agency faces serious questions about how it spent tens of thousands of dollars of the public's money.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates first uncovered serious problems inside the Upper Cumberland Development District.

Now, a sister agency -- the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency -- is the subject of a scathing state audit just released today. That agency is overseen by the same board of local elected officials who control UCDD.

"Whether money comes from federal, state or local government, it is all public money that should be spent for proper public purposes," state Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a news release.

"When taxpayers see their money being spent for the purposes outlined in this audit, it erodes their faith in government."

UCHRA operates a number of programs designed to help the poor in the 14-county Upper Cumberland region.

Among the findings of the audit:

Agency officials spent nearly $60,000 for some 30 people on an annual trip to Washington, D.C.

Included in that: $1,300 for agency officials and their guests to attend a performance at Ford's Theatre. There was $289 in agency money to visit a wax museum, plus another $284 for tickets to Mount Vernon.

Plus, there was all sorts of fine dining -- including some $43,00 at Washington's exclusive Oceanairre Seafood Room. The bill includes filet mignon, yellow fin tuna and alcoholic beverages of all kinds.

"We don't think that's an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars to purchase alcohol -- period," said Richard Norment, assistant to the comptroller and the head of the Department of Audit.

Auditors also found that agency staff made frequent trips to Nashville, charging expensive meals and alcoholic beverages on agency credit cards.

They used public funds to occasionally purchase alcohol from liquor stores.

On top of that, they spent $123,000 on gift certificates for training events.

"The bigger picture," Norment said, "is obviously to make sure that everybody else gets the message that this type of abuse and waste of taxpayer dollars is not acceptable."

A lot of these expenditures were first discovered after longtime executive director Phyllis Bennett took leave after being diagnosed with cancer.

She has since passed away, and a new director has been chosen. Board members have been saying they believe they finally have this agency back on track.

A separate audit of UCDD is continuing.

Email: pwilliams@newschannel5.com

Click here to read the audit

More stories, documents:
NewsChannel 5 Investigates: UCDD

Tell Us What You Think!
On Facebook:
NewsChannel 5 Investigates
NC5_Phil Williams

On Twitter:
@NC5Investigates
@NC5PhilWilliams

Back to NewsChannel 5 Investigates 

  • NewsChannel 5 InvestigatesMore>>

  • NewsChannel 5 Investigates:

    NewsChannel 5 Receives Prestigious Peabody Award

    NewsChannel 5 Receives Prestigious Peabody Award

    April 2, 2014 01:22 PM 2014-04-02 19:05:51 GMT
    NewsChannel 5 and the NewsChannel 5 Investigates team have been honored with one of broadcasting's highest honors, the coveted George Foster Peabody Award, for an on-going investigation of Tennessee state government.more>>
    NewsChannel 5 and the NewsChannel 5 Investigates team have been awarded one of broadcasting's highest honors, the coveted George Foster Peabody Award, for an on-going investigation of Tennessee state government, it was announced Wednesday.more>>
  • NC5 Investigates: Economic Incentives

    UAW: 'Ball Is Back In The Governor's Court'

    UAW: 'Ball Is Back In The Governor's Court'

    Monday, April 21 2014 7:31 PM EDT2014-04-21 23:31:06 GMT
    The United Auto Workers ended one battle Monday, but the struggle to represent Volkswagen workers appears to be far from over. And union officials promised to turn up the heat in Congress over how the Haslam administration used your money.more>>
    The United Auto Workers ended one battle Monday, but the struggle to represent Volkswagen workers appears to be far from over. And union officials promised to turn up the heat in Congress over how the Haslam administration used your money.more>>
  • NC5 Investigates: Economic Incentives

    UAW Drops Appeal Of Volkswagen Vote

    UAW Drops Appeal Of Volkswagen Vote

    The United Auto Workers has dropped its appeal of the February vote that it lost to unionize workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, the UAW announced Monday morning.more>>
    The United Auto Workers has dropped its appeal of the February vote that it lost to unionize workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, the UAW announced Monday morning.more>>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.