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Case against KCSO employees terminated in scrap money scheme referred to Knox Co. DA

Sheriff Tom Spangler announced Ivan Harmon, Larry Hurst and Scott Moore have been terminated effective immediately.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — The Tennessee Comptroller's office released findings in the case of three Knox County Sheriff's Office employees who were recently fired after an investigation into a scrap money scheme and reports they used inmates to perform work that personally benefited them.

The case was referred to Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen's office to potentially consider charges against the employees, and it could go to a grand jury for review.

The DA's office does not comment on cases it is reviewing.

KCSO said several violations were found found during an internal affairs investigation conducted last October with Inmate Industries personnel. 

Sheriff Tom Spangler on Tuesday announced Ivan Harmon, Larry Hurst and Scott Moore had been terminated effective immediately.

"There could be additional terminations to follow as a result of the same IA investigation," said Sheriff Spangler. We are awaiting the Tennessee Comptrollers Report. However, with the overwhelming number of General Order violations and one or more TCA code violations, I could not in good conscious allow these individuals to remain employed by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office."

Moore declined Friday through an intermediary to comment. Harmon could not be reached. 

Spangler said the three took part in a pallet and scrap recycling money scheme, and said they used inmates to their own personal benefit. 

Sheriff Spangler also added, "While I am extremely disappointed in the actions of these individuals, I want to be clear that these men and their actions are not representative of the majority of the men and women employed by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office."

Credit: TN Comptroller of the Treasury
Accumulated pallets at Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility

Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Jason Mumpower released his findings in the scrap recycling scheme, saying personnel received an estimated $5,817 from the sale of scrap metal and pallets from Jan. 1, 2018 to Nov. 5, 2020 -- but did not hand over the cash or receipts to the county finance department.

Mumpower said the supervisors reportedly kept the money in an informal and unauthorized cash fund, and they claimed they used it to buy snacks, drinks, and other food items for deputies and inmates who worked in the program. Investigators were unable to verify if the money actually went toward snacks, saying the supervisors did not maintain records of collection or payments. 

The comptroller said scrap property is supposed to go through Knox County's Property Management Office for disposal. KCSO officials indicated to the state that they had "corrected these deficiencies."

Ivan Harmon

Credit: KCSO
Ivan Harmon

According to the investigation, Harmon had been appointed to a civilian role in KCSO through former Sheriff Jimmy Jones.

Records show that during an interview it was discovered that Harmon committed several violations of KCSO General Order, Employee Handbook, and Policy and Procedures. He also violated two state laws. 

Officials said that Harmon violated TCA 62-9-111 Sales of donated scrap metal by governmental entities because he had subordinate employees haul scrap metal and wooden pallets to recycling centers and return with cash once or twice a month, receiving roughly $200 to $400 each trip. 

One subordinate said he "could not even count the number of times he has taken the pallets.” saying he was told the money was turned over to the Knox County General Fund. Another employee said he was told the money went toward helping needy officers.

Harmon did not turn over the funds that were the proceeds from the sale of scrap metal and of wooden pallets to the Knox County Finance Office. 

Records also state that Harmon was not completely truthful during the interview. Harmon denied that he had ever ordered anyone to take inmates outside of Knox County several times, officials said.

Officials also said that Harmon ordered a Knox County Sheriff's Office employee to take Knox County inmates to perform on privately owned property.

Harmon admitted during the interview that he had inmates haul off tree parts that saved a company, that belongs to his friend, thousands of dollars in exchange for favors. 

During an investigation, it was discovered that Harmon developed relationships with several inmates that resulted in him giving out his contact information to the inmates and once the inmates were no longer incarcerated, he started financial relationships with them.

Harmon reportedly helped those inmates get jobs when they were released, with one employee saying he had knowledge that an inmate got a job at the Pilot Corporation from Harmon.

Harmon told officers that part of the proceeds from the sale of scrap metal and wooden pallets went to buying pizza for the inmates when they would be kept out late and the other part to purchase of meat for cookouts that would occasionally happen for the employees and inmates of inmate industries/work release.

Harmon is a former city employee, former school board member, former Knoxville City Council member, and a former Knox County commissioner.

Scott Moore

Credit: Knox County Sheriff's Office

KCSO said that Scott Moore has been terminated and was previously re-hired on November 3, 2014 as a civilian employee by former Sheriff Jimmy Jones.

"As I stated on March 23, 2021 we are awaiting the State Comptrollers Report," Sheriff Tom Spangler said. The actions of Mr. Moore are unbecoming a Knox County Sheriff’s Office employee and extremely disappointing, his actions are NOT representative of the majority of the hardworking men and women at the Sheriff’s Office."

Records show that during an interview it was discovered that Moore committed several violations of KCSO General Order, Employee Handbook, and Policy and Procedures. He also violated two state laws. 

Officials said that Moore violated TCA 62-9-111 Sales of donated scrap metal by governmental entities because he had subordinate employees haul scrap metal to a metal recycling center and return with cash. 

Moore did not turn over the funds that were the proceeds from the sale of scrap metal and of wooden pallets to the Knox County Finance Office. 

Records also state that Moore was not completely truthful during the interview. He denied having a business outside of being employed by Knox County. According to officials, during a previous interview, it was discovered that he is listed as the owner of Moore Properties. 

Moore also denied that he had ever had an inmate at his residence for any reason while they were still in the custody of KCSO. In a previous interview, Moore admitted that Joshua Haynes, an inmate, has been to his residence while in Knox County custody to try to fix a truck that had been broken down, officials said.

Officials also said that Moore ordered a Knox County Sheriff's Office employee to take Knox County inmates to perform on privately owned property.

Officials said that Moore allowed his Knox County tax exemption number to be used for personal purchases. 

During an investigation, it was discovered that Moore developed relationships with several inmates that resulted in him giving out his contact information to the inmates and once the inmates were no longer incarcerated, he started financial relationships with them.

Moore told officers that part of the proceeds from the sale of scrap metal and wooden pallets went to buying pizza for the inmates when they would be kept out late and the other part to purchase of meat for cookouts that would occasionally happen for the employees and inmates of inmate industries/work release.

Moore is also a former Knox County Commissioner.

Larry Hurst

Credit: Larry Hurst

During an interview, Hurst told officials that he could have an inmate work for him personally once they are no longer an inmate. 

Records show that Hurst hauled scrap metal to a metal recycling center and returned with cash.

Officials said that Hurst accepted an air conditioning unit as a gift from Black Oaks Church for some work that inmates had done removing brush from round some land that the church had. 

Hurst admitted that he not only gave Steve Lawson, an inmate, his phone number but also agreed to pay him $300 to do personal work for him once he was no longer an inmate. This incident was reported while Lawson was an inmate and Hurst told officers that he did not know Lawson before he was an inmate of the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Officials said Hurst used inmates to work on property he personally owned and did not know if he used Knox County funds to purchase ductwork for a personally owned air conditioning unit. 

According to KCSO, Harmon was hired on December 5, 2003, and Hurst on February 14, 2011.

You can read the full report from the Knox County Sheriff's Office below:

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