2 New Market employees accused of stealing $40,000 from town

2 New Market employees accused of stealing $40,000 from town

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NEW MARKET (WATE) - Two employees of the small Jefferson County town of New Market are accused of stealing at least $40,000 worth of public funds for their personal use.

A news release from the State Comptroller's office states former town recorder Melissa Robin Parker withdrew a certificate of deposit worth $25,009 from the town's account and converted the money into cashier's checks, payable to her husband.

She allegedly concealed the theft by fabricating invoices and board of aldermen meeting minutes to indicate the money was being used to pay for repair work her husband performed on city vehicles.

The Comptroller's investigation, conducted in conjunction with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, also revealed that Parker issued at least $13,793 in unauthorized payroll checks to herself, then deleted computer accounting records.

When confronted by investigators, Parker said some of the funds were used to help support an unsuccessful personal business venture.

Investigators also found that public works employee Sammy Bailey used a city fuel card to make gasoline purchases for his personal use totaling at least $1,285. Because the town didn't closely monitor fuel purchases, Bailey's actions went unnoticed for nearly a year.

Parker has been indicted by a grand jury on two counts of theft over $10,000 and four counts of official misconduct. The grand jury later indicted Bailey on one count of theft over $1,000, two counts of official misconduct and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card

Investigators also determined New Market officials did not have proper safeguards to prevent Parker and Bailey from stealing the funds.

Parker had sole authority to oversee all aspects of the town's finances. The Comptroller's office says having more than one person involved in financial transactions provides checks and balances.

Investigators also noted the town should have more closely monitored fuel card expenditures.

Town officials vowed to take corrective action, including requiring the mayor and alderman sign off on all checks and checking fuel purchases on a monthly basis.

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