audits

Comptroller questions TBI spending over budget, using reserves

Press release from state Comptroller’s Office:

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released a special report examining several aspects of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s fiscal operations, including an analysis of TBI’s budget, the procurement of its Pilatus airplane, staffing, and grants and contracts.

The special report was initiated after Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) called for an examination of TBI’s budgeting and accounting practices. The General Assembly included language within the 2017 Appropriations Act requiring the review to be complete by January 31, 2018.

The Comptroller’s Office found TBI’s expenditures have exceeded its budgeted estimates since 2014, and TBI has relied on its various reserve funds for its continued operations. These accounts have been greatly diminished as TBI has used these funds. The Comptroller’s Office concluded that TBI and the Department of Finance and Administration should commit to improve communication during the budget process.

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Auditors find troubles at DIDD and see looming caregiver crisis

In an audit of the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities released today, the state comptroller’s office found shortcomings in several areas and included an “emerging issue” observation that the state faces “a critical shortage of caregivers for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

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Former ETSU tennis coach indicted on fraud and theft charges

Press release from state comptroller’s office

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released an investigation that has resulted in the indictment of Yaser Zaatini, the former Director of Tennis and coach at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). The investigation was initiated after the ETSU Department of Internal Audit reported financial discrepancies in the tennis program.

Investigators determined that from September 2011 through February 2017, Zaatini misappropriated at least $45,540 from ETSU and often provided fabricated or altered documents to the ETSU Athletics Department. Zaatini used a variety of methods to misappropriate the money. Zaatini fabricated and submitted at least 65 fraudulent student athlete per diem documents, which often appeared to contain copies of student athletes’ signatures. The student athletes told investigators that they had neither signed the documents nor received the per diem payments. Zaatini received money to which he was not entitled.

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TN auditors find troubles at CoreCivic prisons

A state comptroller’s audit has found several problems at private prisons operated for the state of Tennessee by CoreCivic, previously known as Corrections Corporation of America. Short staffing at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, the newest and largest prison in the state, is a major focus, but there’s also criticism of operations at Whiteville Correctional Facility and Hardeman County Correctional Center.

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Former community college president’s ouster questioned, being reviewed by comptroller

Former Motlow State President Anthony “Tony” Kinkel is trying to restore his reputation four months after resigning from the position, reports the Murfreesboro Post, and the state comptroller is conducting a review of the proceedings that led to his ouster – including an audit that Kinkel says was unfair. But the Tennessee Board of Regents says it’s putting the matter in the past and looking ahead.

 “I’ve never seen anything like what happened here,” says Kinkel in a recent interview. “I just want my good name back.”

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Former county mayor, employees indicted on theft charges

News release from state comptroller’s office

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, working in conjunction with the investigator from the 24th Judicial District, has released an investigation related to several former Decatur County employees and former County Mayor Michael Smith.

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TN endangered species list hasn’t been updated in 16 years

A state comptroller’s audit says that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has not updated Tennessee’s endangered species list in 16 years – an apparent violation of both state law and an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A state law calls for the endandered species list to be updated every two years. The agreement with the federal agency calls for TWRA to submit additions and deletions to the list once a year.

In response to the audit finding, TWRA officials said the head of the agency’s biodiversity division was unaware of the reporting requirements until 2013 and is in the process of doing a full update.

Note: The audit is HERE; the current Tennessee endangered species list is HERE.

Dept. of Safety returning $112K in misspent fed forfeiture funds

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security had $112,614 in inappropriate spending on food and catering that it received from federal forfeiture funds, according to a U.S. Department of Justice audit. Department officials say they will  reimburse the federal government for the questioned expenditures.

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Prosecutor waits for comptroller audit of alleged ETSU racquet allegations

An East Tennessee State University internal audit has found that Yaser Zaatini, who resigned as tennis coach in March,  was involved in $106,000 worth of misdeeds and may have committed the crimes of theft, forgery and misconduct. But Washington County District Attorney is waiting for an audit by the state comptroller’s office before presenting the matter to a grand jury, reports the Johnson City Press.

 In his letter to ETSU President Brian Noland, obtained through a Tennessee Open Records request filed after his resignation was announced, Zaatini wrote “In conjunction with my resignation, I waive all annual leave accruals and have executed the enclosed promissory note promising to pay the university $31,293.13 consistent therewith. 

“In connection with this resignation I make no admission of malfeasance.”

…ETSU Board of Trustees member David Golden, head of the body’s Audit Committee, said the hall of fame coach was engaged in a “fairly sophisticated” scheme to falsify student-athletes’ signatures on meal expenditure forms and print phony receipts for restringing tennis racquets to be reimbursed for the costs. 

Tracing suspect transactions as far back as 2010, the university’s audit team estimated $85,674.61 in questionable expenses related to meal expenses, racquet stringing, registration fees and other expenditures. Auditors also tallied $20,747.63 in unreported annual leave they called into question. 

Even with the ETSU internal audit, Clark said if there were any charges, the state comptroller’s office would be the prosecuting agency, so he wanted to wait for that report before proceeding to the grand jury.

…“We want to make sure we have everything there might be before we move forward,” he said.

Nonprofit Mississippi River group dissolves after audit questions arise

A nonprofit group established protect and promote the Mississippi River in the stretch along Tennessee’s border has ceased operations after state auditors alleged improper bidding procedures in the design and construction of a $2 million visitors center, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The board of directors of the Mississippi River Corridor-Tennessee voted to dissolve because the Tennessee Department of Transportation terminated a contract with the group and quit paying invoices, said Diana Threadgill, president and executive director. “We just ran out of money,” she said.

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