HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. — UPDATE (9/13/2019):
A Hamblen County trustee has resigned from his position after he was indicted following an investigation claiming he withheld $89,478.81 in cash from public funds.
John Baskette admitted to authorities that he hid the undeposited cash in various locations in his office because he feared carrying large amounts of cash alone to the bank for deposit.
On Sept. 13 at 2:50 p.m., the Hamblen County Clerk received Baskette's formal resignation.
Lawyer Betsy Stibler, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of people seeking to remove Baskette from office, said said she will no longer be pursuing that ouster suit now that he has officially resigned.
"I feel certain that the possibility of ouster encouraged his decision to resign. I would like to thank the 12 citizens who stood up for all of Hamblen County’s taxpayers and filed suit to remove him from office," she said.
Investigators with the Tennessee Comptroller's Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation determined the cash was collected between November 5, 2018 and December 8, 2018.
They also said about a month after investigations began, Baskette deposited all of the missing money in the county’s account.
However, authorities said the investigation further revealed that Baskette also withdrew $88,520 from his personal bank accounts in the days prior to depositing the missing cash in the county’s account.
The investigation found that Baskette was in debt to several individuals for equipment sales, cattle sales, and personal sales. Many of these individuals stated Baskette requested transactions be done in cash.
After depositing the missing money in January 2019, Baskette and a family member opened a joint checking account with a $450 check from the family member on February 4. The family member then obtained a loan for $89,000 and placed the loan proceeds into the joint account. Baskette used the loan proceeds to pay his debts to three individuals via certified checks. The $89,450 Baskette received from his family member was nearly the same amount of cash he withheld from the trustee’s office collections.
On August 15, 2019, John Baskette was indicted by the Hamblen County Grand Jury. The indictments included 40 counts of failure to deposit public funds, two counts of official misconduct, one count of destruction of government records, one count of theft over $60,000, and one count of worthless check over $1,000.