ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Cheatham County Grand Jury indicted Ashland City Mayor Steve Allen this week for three counts of official misconduct.
The indictment stems from an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.
Investigators determined that Allen used a town-owned lawnmower for his personal benefit on three occasions during the spring of 2020. He told investigators he used the lawnmower because his personal lawnmower was in the process of being repaired.
Allen was seen on town surveillance cameras during two of the three instances. The surveillance footage also shows Allen towing a town-owned trailer to haul the zero-turn lawnmower as he left the Public Works/Utilities Building. He was also seen on surveillance video at the town public works facility in August 2021 when he authorized the use of town equipment and personnel to repair his personal lawnmower tire. Town policy prohibits the authorization of use of town property for “private gain or advantage to oneself.” The policy also prohibits town employees from having tools or equipment in their possession unless they are acting in their capacity as town employees.
Investigators are also questioning $3,290.53 in food purchases made by Allen using a town credit card. Allen made 75 questionable meal purchases, and he failed to provide supporting documentation for 27 of them. Allen had been instructed by a town official to only use the credit card for town business. However, he subsequently began taking multiple individuals for meals purportedly for business purposes.
The comptroller's report says the town should have had policies on credit card use and work-related meals but didn't.
“It’s important for local governments to have clear policies surrounding a variety of activities,” Comptroller Jason Mumpower said. “Our investigators recommend that Ashland City have written policies over the use of credit cards and business-related meals. A lack of policies contributes to an increased risk of improper and questionable uses of public funds.”
Any town in Tennessee has access to the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service, an agency that helps small towns with all kinds of legal questions, including how to write up policies.
"They can turn to those folks and really get some great advice and consultation about how to draft policies and set up systems within their governments," said John Dunn with the state comptroller's office.
NewsChannel 5 has reached out to Mayor Allen for comment following his indictment, but he did not immediately return our calls and texts.