Former Sheriff Choate Responds To Comptroller’s Report Findings

On December 17, 2014, the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s office released an investigative report of selected records of the Fentress County Sheriff’s Department.

That report revealed the following deficiencies:

•A cash shortage totaling $2,277 existed as of August 31, 2014 in the drug control operations.

•Seized drug funds totaling $12,885 were not deposited within three days of collection.

•Inventory records were not maintained for seized property, and inventory records were inadequate for other evidence.

•A vehicle seized in a drug offense and forfeited to the Sheriff’s Department was used for purposes other than drug control.

•The Sheriff’s Department had deficiencies in confidential drug fund procedures.

•The Sheriff’s Department had deficiencies in purchasing procedures.

Following the release of the information to the news media, which was broadcast last week, former Sheriff Choate notified the Courier that he would like to make a statement in connection with the report findings, and that statement follows:

“This comptroller’s report was initiated earlier this year prior to the August election.  It was filed through an anonymous complaint.  We do not know who made the complaint.

My staff and I cooperated fully with the auditors throughout their investigation, the findings of which they completed about a month or so before the election was over.  What they told me at that time was that some of the staff had failed to follow proper procedures in obtaining purchase orders and in some other areas, and they wrote us up for that.

As far as the improper use of a seized motor vehicle.  That vehicle was donated to the Fentress County Rescue Squad.  We didn’t realize there was a problem with this.  They needed the vehicle and we thought we were helping the county out by letting another government agency have use of the vehicle.

Prior to my leaving office, they received a second anonymous complaint.  That’s when the matter of the $2,277 which could not be accounted for came up.  We only learned of this a few days before we left office, and did not have proper time to go through, research, and find the paperwork on this one instance.

Read the rest of the story in this weeks Fentress Courier.