WHITE COUNTY – A special investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has revealed two members of the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Officers Association (TLETOA) – including one from Sparta – stole at least $175,700 from the nonprofit association. The investigation was initiated at the request of TLETOA officials after they discovered questionable payments from the association bank account.
The TLETOA is comprised of approximately 400 law enforcement training officers, and its primary purpose is to provide training to law enforcement personnel throughout the state. The Governor’s Highway Safety Office provides the primary funding for the training conducted by TLETOA via a grant to Columbia State Community College.
Comptroller investigators found that from May 2010-October 2013, former TLETOA treasurer Robert Hall, 68, who retired from the Sparta Police Department in June 2014, and TLETOA project director Gary Bradley, an employee of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, received association funds for their personal benefit.
Hall issued unauthorized checks to himself totaling at least $87,850, and Bradley accepted checks that he knew were unauthorized totaling $87,850. In 2013 alone, they issued checks to themselves totaling $103,200, which is more than 41 percent of TLETOA’s total training funds.
Hall and Bradley used several methods to conceal their unauthorized payments. These included placing signatures of two TLETOA presidents on documents to falsely indicate approval of some payments, and Hall omitted the unauthorized checks in his verbal financial reports to the board.
During this period, both men worked full time for law enforcement agencies.
None of the 14 current and former TLETOA board members with whom investigators spoke recalled any board discussion or approval of the unauthorized compensation to Hall and Mr. Bradley.
On Jan. 4, the White County grand jury indicted Hall and Bradley each on one count of theft over $60,000, one count of criminal conspiracy, and one count of forgery.
“By allowing one person, the former treasurer, to have complete control over the association’s finances, this theft was able to take place over several years,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a release. “Separating financial responsibilities between multiple individuals provides a vital control to prevent and detect theft.”
To view the special investigation online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/.