By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
NASHVILLE — The Lewis County Sheriff’s Department gave confidential sums of money earmarked for undercover drug buys to the Ladies Golf Association and the American Legion Youth Program.
The transfers, budget deficits, cash overdrafts and a failure to follow county policies were among the findings of an audit of Lewis County state Comptroller Justin Wilson released this week.
County Mayor Bill Webb, who took office last month after his election in August, told Tennessee Watchdog Thursday the problems outlined in the audit occurred during the administration of former mayor Van Ward.
When Watchdog called a published number for Ward’s Hohenwald home Thursday, a recording said the number had been disconnected.
Wilson’s audit admonished the Sheriff’s Department for its handling of the confidential drug enforcement funds
“The sheriff advised us that these expenditures were for drug awareness; however, we questioned if these transactions should have been disbursed from confidential funds,” the audit said. “The confidential drug bank account should only be used to provide confidential funds for drug agents for the purpose of making drug buys, paying confidential informants, and other confidential related expenses.”
Webb told Watchdog he knew nothing about the drug money transfers. “I don’t know anything about that,” Webb said. “I will have to look at the report again.”
Sheriff Dwayne Kilpatrick, overseer of the drug funds, was not available Thursday
WHAT ARE THEY REALLY UP TO: Money meant for undercover drug buys went to the Ladies Golf Association, according to an audit.Lewis County Sheriff Dwayne Kilpatrick, who oversaw the undercover drug enforcement program, was unavailable Thursday.
The audit also faults county officials for reportedly paying invoices for engineering services late, resulting in interest charges to taxpayers of $7,416.
Among the other findings:
- County officials purchased a new John Deere backhoe for $57,600, soliciting and receiving only one bid. Taxpayers may have lost out on a more competitive price.
- County officials failed to solicit competitive bids for the replacement of field lights at Memorial Park that cost $35,000.
- Several county commissioners failed to make public their county employment when voting on budget amendments for the departments that employed them.
Webb defended the commissioners, several of whom were highway department officials and school system employees. “They didn’t do anything illegal, ” Webb said, “except they just didn’t think to disclose it.”
“They voted on some financial things that probably didn’t have any effect on their salary but because they voted on it they found they should have made a disclaimer publicly and of course we are making sure that happens now.”
Contact Christopher Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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