After a dual investigation by the City of Clarksville and the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury, the Montgomery County Grand Jury indicted former City Garage Administrative Support Technician Loretta Beeler Smith on April 4, 2022, for one count of theft over $1,000.
In 2021, the Internal Audit Department was alerted by City staff to a discrepancy involving missing cash deposits from scrap metal sales. The Internal Audit Department and the Finance & Revenue Department immediately began an inquiry into the missing receipts. The investigation led to the discovery of additional missing cash deposits related to the sale of scrap metal.
The City of Clarksville referred the case to the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury, per the Local Government Instances of Fraud Reporting Act (TCA 8-4-501), which requires public officials to report the unlawful taking of public money, property, or services to the comptroller of the treasury.
The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office then investigated selected records of the Clarksville City Garage from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec.15, 2021. The results presented that Smith misappropriated funds totaling $1,653 by failing to remit cash proceeds from scrap metal sales and taxicab safety inspections between Nov. 5, 2019, through Dec. 21, 2021, and retained those funds for her personal benefit.
Smith joined the City Garage in 2007, where she worked in the parts room up until 2017. Following this position, she became the administrative support technician, where the City entrusted her to follow the set policies and procedures for completing cash reports and capital asset information forms.
“The City has policies to prevent this kind of criminal activity, including procedures,” Chief Financial Officer Laurie Matta said. “Smith circumvented these procedures by taking advantage of her position and changing the processes we had in place. She took advantage of the trust and faith the City of Clarksville and our citizens had entrusted her with.”
Following this investigation, the Finance Department fine-tuned the City’s procedures for receiving cash deposits from scrap metal sales. Instead of collecting cash proceeds at the City Garage, the scrap disposal company will issue the City a check.
The City of Clarksville terminated Smith’s employment on Jan. 7, 2022.
“The City of Clarksville is committed to the pursuit of justice, and therefore, we set high standards for our employees and will not tolerate those who fall short of those standards,” City Mayor Joe Pitts said. “There is nothing that destroys the public’s trust and the security of public funds than an employee's unlawful actions. The City of Clarksville is fortunate to have fantastic and capable Internal Audit and Finance Departments, who worked closely with the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury to ensure that justice was served and see that Ms. Smith was held accountable for her actions.”