CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A report released by the Tennessee Comptroller's Division of Investigation shows how more than $130,000 was siphoned off from the Cumberland Co. Veterans Service Office over the course of three years.
Due to poor record keeping, the actual amount could be much higher, the Comptroller's Office noted.
A Cumberland Co. Grand Jury indicted Mark Daniels for theft last fall. He has repaid some of the missing funds, but the Comptroller's Office says there is still a shortage of at least $112,000.
“This type of abuse of the public trust – systematic and long-running – cannot be tolerated,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “It is shameful that public funds intended to help the brave men and women who have served our country so honorably would be diverted from their intended purpose."
The Veterans Service Office, which is dedicated to helping veterans and their families obtain government benefits, became a part of Cumberland Co. government in 2009.
At the time, Daniels created a separate bank account in the organization's name and maintained that account independent of the county's control. During that time, investigators allege he used office funds for:
• Writing checks from the office bank account to himself and his wife.
• Issuing numerous checks to vendors and citizens from the account that appeared to be used to obtain cash rather than assistance for veterans.
• Withdrawing cash from the account.
• Withholding cash donations that should have been deposited into the account.
• Depositing checks from private citizens and other veteran organizations into his personal bank account instead of the office account.
• Using the office account’s debit card to make purchases that appeared unrelated to assistance for veterans.
In response to the investigation, Cumberland County government has put in place a number of changes that are intended to prevent similar problems from recurring in the future.