Askins Expected To Change Plea In UCDD Scandal

Posted at 6:06 PM, Aug 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-29 19:34:36-04

She insisted she was not guilty, but Wendy Askins -- the woman at the center of the scandal involving the Upper Cumberland Development District in Cookeville -- appears ready to change her plea.

That scandal was first exposed by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger signed an order today setting a change-of-plea hearing for Askins for Tuesday afternoon.

The apparent deal comes just one month after Judge Trauger denied Askin’s motion to dismiss the indictment against her.
What we don't know are the terms of the plea deal that she has now reached with prosecutors.

Our NewsChannel 5 investigation first exposed the financial improprieties involving Askins back in 2012.

What was supposed to become a home for needy seniors also became her home, using more than a million dollars in UCDD funds.

Askins was the longtime executive director of the agency.

After NewsChannel 5 Investigates uncovered all sorts of questionable spending, Askins was forced to resign.

A year later, a federal grand jury indicted her and her assistant, Larry Webb, on a host of federal charges, including theft, money laundering and bank fraud.

Last August, Webb pleaded guilty to a single count of bank fraud, as part of a deal that let him avoid going to prison.

The question now is: will Wendy Askins be so lucky?

If convicted on the original charges, Askins faces up to 225 years in prison and a $6,750,000 fine

Among the arguments against her: she's the one who really stood to benefit from the scheme.

On the other hand, the agency was eventually able to sell that house, recovering much of the money that it stood to lose.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates will there Tuesday to let you know what happens.