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Missing narcotics funds the fault of poor record-keeping, State audit says

In addition, investigators found that the unit did not keep inventory records of drug evidence and seized property.

May 22, 2017

An audit of Cheatham County's government spending for the 2016-2017 fiscal year by the Comptroller found that the narcotics unit of the Sheriff's Office had "questionable expenses with confidential funds" and missing evidence.

The discrepancies discovered by the State Comptroller were determined to be the result of "poor documentation and mismanagement of monies," the report said.

The state began investigating the Sheriff's Office's drug operations early last year after the office filed a fraud report saying that $1,145 of cash set aside for undercover drug purchases was unaccounted for.

The State's report said it found that $1,120 of confidential funds maintained by the narcotics unit's former lieutenant were unaccounted for, as were $60 of confidential funds assigned to an agent and $251 of seized funds.

The report also found "questionable expenses with confidential funds" totaling $570, the result of a failure to follow procedure in giving money to confidential informants. Forms documenting the payment of CI's require the signatures of the lieutenant, the agent in charge of the informant and a witnessing officer.

An agent told investigators that the former lieutenant several times filled out forms in the name of an agent and had that agent sign the forms after the fact.

"The agent said he did not witness the former lieutenant make the payments," the report said.

In addition, investigators found that the unit did not keep inventory records of drug evidence and seized property. The report lists four drug seizures and a laptop listed as evidence in case files that could not be accounted for, and that investigators could not confirm that this was a complete list of missing property.

Sheriff Mike Breedlove said in the report that the former lieutenant had kept "no organized drug file system" and "money found in his desk not connected to any case or subject."

The report said that the former lieutenant reimbursed department for the missing funds within two weeks and that Lieutenant Shannon Heflin would immediately take his place as lieutenant of the unit. Breedlove directed Heflin and administrative assistant Marcy Jarrett to organize and maintain accounts of drug operations and to create an internal control in which one person is not responsible for chain of custody.

Breedlove said in the report that the procedure for documenting payments to CI's is now enforced more stringently.

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