Employees caught stealing $40,000 from East TN town

(WBIR) An investigation by the State Comptroller's office and TBI found two employees for the Jefferson County town of New Market stole at least $40,000 for their personal use.

The town's recorder, Melissa Parker, accounted for the majority of those thefts, taking more than $38,000 of public funds. Investigators said she took $25,000 and converted it to cashier's checks made out to her husband. Then, she covered up the left by faking invoices and meeting minutes to indicate the money was used to pay for repair work her husband had performed on city vehicles.

Parker also then issued at least $13,793 in unauthorized payroll checks to herself, and then deleted accounting records to conceal the crime.

She told investigators at least some of her stolen money had been used on an "unsuccessful personal business venture."

Investigators also determined Sammy Bailey, a public works employee, had improperly used a city fuel card to pay for at least $1,285 worth of gasoline for his personal use.

Investigators said the city lacked proper safeguards which could have prevented the employees from stealing the funds.

Town officials said they are working to take corrective action, including requiring the mayor and an alderman to sign off on all city checks and checking all fuel purchases on a monthly basis.


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