Audit Uncovers Rampant Abuse At Bedford Co. 911 Center - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Audit Uncovers Rampant Abuse At Bedford Co. 911 Center

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by Adam Ghassemi

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – A state audit revealed the Bedford County Emergency Communications District made questionable purchases using the 911 fees collected from telephone subscribers.

The audit listed a total of $46,806.60 in questionable purchases from July 2005 to March 2012.

Eddie Bauer, Lucky Brand, Gap and American Eagle were just some of the designer names claimed off as "employee uniforms."

There was even a $412.16 Coach laptop bag and $158 charge for 24 President Obama pins during the 2009 inauguration.

"It's very troubling anytime that you see the rate payer funds or tax payer funds that are so blatantly misused," said Director of Local Government Audit Jim Arnette for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.

Arnette said an anonymous complaint of fraud lead them to uncover the abuse. "They were not following any travel policies in terms of the reimbursement for travel expenses," he said.

The audit revealed former Director Cathy Mathis spent thousands with district credit cards for "out of town" meals at restaurants, such as Toot's, in nearby Murfreesboro. The district also paid her a travel advance, meaning many meals were paid for twice.

Many purchases seemed to be personal in nature, but not all.

The new HVAC and electrical system at the district's Shelbyville facility cost $163,470. That's $13,543 more than approved without documentation to explain why.

The audit pointed out district also didn't use a proper bidding process when it spent $28,735 on a new SUV, which means the district could have saved money.

Officials said a few items like iPods and Nooks are still missing.

Arnette said he hopes the findings will make district leaders come up with internal controls to ensure money meant for E911 service goes to the correct place.

Mathis resigned in March of 2012, while auditors were going through the district's financial records.

Monday, she and board leaders either didn't respond to calls for comment, or wouldn't go on-camera.

The case has been assigned to the District Attorney's Office from neighboring Coffee County. District Attorney General Mickey Layne said by phone they are still investigating if Mathis will face criminal charges, but nothing is imminent.

You can report government fraud and waste by calling the Fraud Waste and Abuse Hotline at 1-800-232-5454.


Email: aghassemi@newschannel5.com
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