TBI investigating payroll allegations in Knox Co. trustee's office

TBI investigating payroll allegations in Knox Co. trustee's office

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"I want them to look at the office and give us a clean bill of health when this is through," says Knox County Trustee Fred Sisk. "I want them to look at the office and give us a clean bill of health when this is through," says Knox County Trustee Fred Sisk.

By HARLOW SUMERFORD
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating false payroll allegations in the office of Knox County Trustee Fred Sisk, at his request.

That request was made on February 9, according to TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm.

Sisk says he noticed employees were taking home money they didn't earn.

The investigation is expected to be widespread. It will focus on current and former employees.

The TBI is looking into records that show a number of employees getting huge payments for comp time. Some were near or above the amount of their base pay.

Earlier in February, Sisk fired operations manager John Haun for taking unauthorized pay.

Documents show Haun's base salary was $68,307.82, but he received $117,809.72 more in comp time pay.

Haun's total salary wound up at $195,440.58 almost three times his expected salary.

Others in the trustee's office took home more than $17,000 in comp time pay.

Sisk says in the past, red flags like this may have been swept under the rug. Now, "I want them to look at the office and give us a clean bill of health when this is through."

"You don't think you have taken money you shouldn't have? Money you didn't earn?" 6 News asks.

"No, every penny that I've been paid, I earned," Sisk says. 

Since this is an ongoing criminal investigation, Sisk isn't releasing or commenting on payroll records.

However, he's making changes to ensure no other problems surface. "Any overtime that is going to be worked has to be approved by me in advance to that being done. Other than that, people won't get paid for it, making sure everything is justified."

No one has been arrested so far, but officials in the district attorney's office say they hope the investigation moves quickly.

While Sisk has worked in the trustee's office for years, he says he didn't have access or the need to look at payroll records before he was elected trustee in August 2008.

The trustee's office acts as the county's general banker, sending out property tax notices, collecting the taxes and issuing receipts.

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