Indictment Says Finance Clerk Stole $240,000!

Kellye Rhea Crabtree

By Jacob E. Rosenbaum

Former Fentress Co. Finance Department accounts payable clerk and deputy director Kellye Rhea Crabtree has been indicted on charges of theft for stealing nearly $240,000 of county money over a period of four years, the largest documented instance of public theft in the history of Fentress County.

The indictment came last Wednesday, September 4, following a lengthy investigation by both the Tennessee Comptroller’s office and the TBI.

According to the comptroller’s report, investigators determined that Crabtree stole at least $239,680.99 from the county between December 2014 and December 2018. The overwhelming majority of the theft was committed through Crabtree’s usage of a Wal-Mart Credit Card that had been issued to Fentress County.

Crabtree used this card to purchase food, cigarettes, personal hygiene items, clothing, electronics, entertainment items, home items, phone cards, and pre-paid Visa cards and gift cards.

The report states that Crabtree was able to hide the theft by receiving all credit card statements, issuing all payments, and manipulating the County’s accounting records and budget.

Investigators also discovered that Crabtree stole $2,065 from the local Cal Ripken baseball league by using her position as treasurer to write unauthorized checks to herself.

The investigation into Crabtree’s malfeasance began in December 2018 when county officials noticed questionable purchases on the county’s Wal-Mart credit card. Crabtree, who had recently been promoted to Deputy Director of the Finance Department, was terminated on December 20, 2018, following these realizations.

The investigation was limited to the time frame between December 14, 2014 – December 20, 2018. Crabtree was employed by the Finance Department for four years prior to this time period, and it is unknown whether she perpetrated any misappropriations during these years as records for these years were unavailable.

Read the full story in this weeks Fentress Courier.