By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
NASHVILLE — No one has prosecuted a former Lincoln County public works superintendent almost a year and a half after state auditors accused him of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in ratepayer money.
As Tennessee Watchdog reported last year, former public utility Superintendent Billy Joe Wiley allegedly rewarded employees with nearly $300,000 in bonus money for performing routine tasks and monitoring one employee for something called “adultery watch.”
So far, no one seems able to explain just what “adultery watch” was all about.
LAND OF LINCOLN: Prosecutors have yet to take Billy Joe Wiley to trial.
One Lincoln County resident recently contacted Tennessee Watchdog and said he and other county residents are confused by the delay and even believe it’s intentional to help Wiley.
The truth, said prosecutor Marla Holloway, involves nothing more than her having to leave Tennessee for 20 weeks to tend to a sick family member.
“We have picked things back up and taken care of pre-trial motions and things like that,” Holloway said. “I believe we have our next court date on July 8. We’re getting pretty close to setting that matter up for trial.”
Holloway is an assistant district attorney general in nearby Coffee County — not Lincoln.
When asked why Lincoln County prosecutors aren’t handling the case, Holloway said the switch was nothing more than an attempt to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Wiley was a public official in Lincoln County, and officials wanted to avoid any conflict of interest accusations.
“I didn’t notify the good citizens of Lincoln County, so I bet they probably are wondering what is going on with the case, and I don’t blame them. They may not have the information to realize what is going on.”
While Holloway was away, another Coffee County prosecutor, Felicia Walker, told Tennessee Watchdog in a voicemail that Holloway was exploring the possibility of a settlement with Wiley.
Walker, though, said she isn’t handling the Wiley case, and Holloway said no talks of a settlement have taken place.
Given the length of time Holloway was away, why was the case not transferred to another prosecutor?
“Our cases are assigned as they are assigned and Mr. Wiley is out on bond,” Holloway said. “There was no great hurry. The evidence is what it is. There’s no real reason to push it any quicker. I suppose if there had been a great need for a hurry then that might have happened.”
Under Wiley’s supervision, some employees received overtime pay even when they didn’t work extra hours, Tennessee Watchdog reported last year. Wiley, who retired on Valentine’s Day two years ago, had absolutely no authority to hand out this bonus money.
The audit also faulted Wiley for handing out more than $13,000 in discounts on water bills, most of which were at his discretion.
The utilities board sells drinking water to more than 8,800 residents and businesses in Lincoln County not served by existing municipal systems.
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