Former Spring Hill finance clerk indicted for stealing funds during cyber attack

Posted at 12:22 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-30 15:41:15-04

SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WTVF) — A former finance clerk for the City of Spring Hill was indicted over a year after she was accused of stealing money while the city was suffering a cyber attack.

In November 2017, the City of Spring Hill was the victim of a ransomeware cyber attack that locked computer servers, including systems the finance department used for payment processes.

Until January 2018, the city could only accept cash and check payments for utility bills, permits, business licenses, court fees and other payments.

Read more: Spring Hill City Hall Recovering After $250k Cyberattack

The Tennessee Comptroller's Office said during this time, former accounts receivable specialist clerk Deanna Jones stole at least $1,543.96 from 19 city customers that she collected from the city's payment drop box.

When she was confronted with discrepancies between documented transactions and deposits, Jones admitted she stole the money. She was fired from the City of Spring Hill in February 2018.

Since then, Jones has repaid the city $798.08, but the remaining $745.88 has not been paid, the Comptroller's office said.

In September 2019, Jones was indicted by a Maury County Grand Jury on one count of theft over $1,000, one count of official misconduct, one count of computer crimes and one count of destruction/ tampering of government records.

The City of Spring Hill provided the following statement in response to Jones' indictment.

Despite the challenges faced by the City during the aftermath of the cyber attack that locked our computer servers, our Finance Department discovered the accounting discrepancies, and Mrs. Jones was terminated thereafter. The matter was reported to the State, which conducted an investigation.

Mrs. Jones has repaid slightly over half of the funds that were taken. The billing accounts of the customers impacted by the incident were credited for the amount taken.

The City also has taken corrective actions to address the findings in the Comptroller’s report.