NEW MARKET, Tenn. (WVLT) - An investigation by the State Comptroller's office found two former employees of New Market stole $40,000 from the Jefferson County town.
Investigators say the town's former recorder, Melissa Robin Parker, withdrew a more than $25,000 certificate of deposit from the town’s account and converted the money into cashier’s checks, payable to her husband.
The investigation also revealed that Parker issued at least $13,793 in unauthorized payroll checks to herself, then deleted computerized accounting records to conceal her crime.
When confronted by investigators, Parker said at least some of the misappropriated funds were used to help support an unsuccessful personal business venture.
Investigators also found that Sammy Bailey, an employee in the town’s public works department, used a city fuel card to make gasoline purchases for his personal use totaling at least $1,285. Because the town didn’t closely monitor fuel purchases, Bailey’s actions went undetected for nearly a year.
The Jefferson County Grand Jury has indicted Parker on two counts of theft over $10,000 and four counts of official misconduct. The Grand Jury later indicted Bailey on one count of theft over $1,000, two counts of official misconduct and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card.
Investigators determined that the city lacked proper safeguards that could have prevented Parker and Bailey from stealing the funds.
Parker was given sole authority to oversee all aspects of the town’s finances. Having more than one person involved in financial transactions provides checks and balances that make it more difficult for any one person to misappropriate funds.
Also, investigators noted that the town should have more closely monitored how and when expenditures on city fuel cards were made.
Town officials vowed to take corrective action, including requiring the mayor and an alderman to sign off on all city checks and checking all fuel purchases on a monthly basis.