Comptroller: Former Greene Co. Sheriff’s Department employee bought hot tub, other personal items with department funds


GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — A former Greene County Sheriff’s Department employee has pleaded guilty to theft after an investigation by the state comptroller.

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office says investigators determined that Stewart Cowles, a former IT system administrator for the sheriff’s department, misappropriated $49,826 from the county through several improper practices.

The investigation determined that Cowles used a sheriff’s department credit card to make personal purchases on Amazon totaling at least $29,554, including the purchase of a hot tub, espresso machine, gaming items, and a Bose speaker system. The comptroller’s office says Cowles altered invoices to hide the purchases.

Investigators say Cowles also submitted timesheets to the sheriff’s department and Greeneville Police Department, where he also worked as an IT administrator, for the same work hours and was paid at least $19,490 by the county for more than 1,500 hours in which he claimed to have worked both jobs simultaneously.

According to the comptroller’s office, Cowles activated a county-paid cell phone line for one of his family members and also continued to use a county-paid cell phone after his employment ended in September 2018.

Cowles pleaded guilty this month to one count of theft over $10,000, according to the comptroller’s office.

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