State audit: Several Memphis employees taking more than their paychecks

State audit: Several Memphis employees taking more than their paychecks

Several employees of the city of Memphis are dishonest, steal on the job and lack supervision, a Tennessee audit says.

Former Memphis Mayor AC Wharton disclosed the audit report, from Comptroller Justin Wilson, on Dec. 28, four days before current Mayor Jim Strickland took office.

The report includes several examples of alleged theft, including a case of a Memphis police officer accused of submitting false information on his timesheets.

“Because of the lack of management oversight, the Memphis Police Department was unable to protect public money,” according to the audit report, which did not say how much the police officer may have taken or what happened to him afterward.

Photo courtesy of the Tennessee Comptrollers Office.

AC Wharton

Police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said Wednesday she could not answer questions about the case, saying only that “it rings a bell” and that she would look into it.

Tennessee Watchdog reached out to representatives of other city agencies, but most said they knew nothing of the audit or the alleged thefts within their own departments.

Wilson’s audit, in another example, described how an East Shelby Library employee deceived a patron into believing an overdue book fine totaled $50.

“The citizen was advised that giving the employee $20 would satisfy the $50 fine,” according to the audit.

“The citizen then called the main library branch about the incident and found out that their fine was actually $1.80.”

The employee resigned, and the alleged victim chose not to prosecute, the report says.

Library spokeswoman Marcey Wright said little about the alleged incident.

“This is my first time hearing about this,” Wright said this week.

There’s more.

The audit rebuked four Public Works employees for other types of theft, including an incident in which a worker was accused of conspiring with her boyfriend to take items from homes and properties scheduled for demolition.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

STOP (GOVERNMENT) WASTE: The Memphis City Beautiful Commission had a major theft because of a lack of security, a new audit says.

Another employee allegedly took from the city an unspecified amount of gasoline for personal use.

Two more Public Works employees, the report says, approached people for money while clearly on the job for the city. Whether any of these employees were disciplined is unclear.

Public Works spokeswoman Arlenia Cole, like Wright, said she knew nothing about the audit or the alleged thefts.

City spokeswoman Ursula Madden said she hadn’t seen the audit and could not comment because she never worked for Wharton.

In another instance cited in the report, members of the Memphis City Beautiful Commission allowed someone to take 250 cases of bottled water from an unlocked supply room. City officials didn’t file a police report, the audit report says.

Tennessee Watchdog contacted all 13 members of the City Council, but none immediately returned our requests for comment Wednesday.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org 

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