KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A former bookkeeper in the Claiborne County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office has pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from court collections over several years.

Lesley Chumley was sentenced to 15 years on Sept. 29. She pled guilty to Theft over $250,000, Official Misconduct, and Tampering with Governmental Records. Following an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, she was accused of misappropriating at least $618,404 from the clerk’s office between May 2015 and February 2022.

According to the AG’s office, Chumley committed the theft by abusing her position as a bookkeeper to take cash from the end-of-the-day collections. To hide her actions, investigators said she created false bank statements to make it appear the bank account balances were higher than they actually were. The concealment efforts were noticed by auditors with the state comptroller’s office, leading to the investigation.

Chumley left the clerk’s office in April 2022. She was indicted on one count of theft over $250,000, one count of official misconduct, and one count of destruction of and tampering with government records in June 2022.

“While it is extremely disappointing that the defendant abused her position of trust to divert public funds, I am pleased that she will be serving a lengthy sentence in the Tennessee prison system as a consequence of her actions. This lengthy prison sentence would not have been possible without the exemplary work of the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office. Their dogged determination and thoroughness uncovered the defendant’s untoward actions and saw this matter to a successful prosecution,” said 8th Judicial District Attorney General Jared Effler.

“I’m pleased to see a successful conclusion to this case. I appreciate the hard work of our investigators and auditors who first uncovered this substantial theft. I’m also grateful to General Effler and his team for not only securing a guilty plea but also arranging for restitution payment to Claiborne County,” said Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Jason Mumpower.