Clerk’s charges dismissed after papers go missing

John Thompson • Feb 24, 2012 at 1:11 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The case against former First Utility District clerk Teresa Metcalf was dismissed on Thursday in Criminal Court because the prosecutor said many of the documents needed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt had been inadvertently destroyed or lost.

Chadwick Jackson, the prosecutor for the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, announced the problem in a letter to Judge Robert Cupp dated Thursday. He said many of those lost or destroyed documents were needed to carry the state’s burden of proof.

Metcalf had been charged with forgery, theft under $500 and official misconduct. She was one of two First Utility District employees to be charged with crimes following an audit by the Comptroller’s Office. The other employee, former manager Bill McFadden, was found guilty of theft, forgery, fraudulent use of credit cards and official misconduct. He was sentenced to a year in jail, but he has not served the sentence because the decision was appealed.

Metcalf was indicted in January 2010 on the findings of the audit, which accused her of neither assessing or paying late fees on her personal account with the utility. By doing so, she allegedly avoided paying $475 in late fees.

She also was accused of using her access to the utility’s computers to alter her personal meter reading and reduce her water usage on her own account. The alleged alteration would have reduced her bill by $43.89. The following month, the correct meter reading was calculated and she paid the amount due, including the $43.89.

In his letter on Thursday, Jackson said in order to prove the case, the missing documents were needed “to establish a timeline of events demonstrating the intent of the defendant to exercise control over the property of the First Utility District of Carter County. Without such evidence, the state is unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally and willfully failed to access late fees to her account after the payment deadlines.”

He said the evidence the state has shows that on more that one occasion Metcalf did pay her late fees prior to the deadlines “thus proving that on those occasions she did not deprive her employer of any funds.”

“Based upon the lack of adequate documentation to prove her guilt and in the interest of justice, it is the conclusion of the state to dismiss this matter,” Jackson said.

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