ELIZABETHTON — The former Johnson County employee who admitted to stealing money from the county was sentenced to 3.5 years’ probation with the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole on Friday. Criminal Court Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood denied a motion for judicial diversion in the case.
Kelly K. Horne, 44, had already pleaded guilty in September on several charges, including theft of $41,995.55 in Johnson County funds between Aug. 24, 2011 and Sept. 1, 2012.
She had also pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery, three counts of hindering a secured creditor and official misconduct. One count of forgery and one count of hindering a secured creditor was dismissed.
Horne became a suspect after Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter began an unrelated examination into alleged theft of scrap metal from the Johnson County transfer station. That led to a discovery of problems in the handling of funds from the transfer station.
Potter called in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. That led to a state auditor taking a closer look at county solid waste funds. The audit uncovered a shortage. The 2011 audit from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office reported “this cash shortage resulted from an employee of the County Mayor’s Office not remitting solid waste transfer collections ($40,695.55) to the county trustee and not remitting sewer inspection collections ($800) to the State Department of Environment and Conservation. We informed the county mayor of the cash shortage on Aug. 24, 2011, and he immediately suspended the suspected employee.”
The auditor reported that the daily collections from the transfer station were not remitted to the county trustee for long periods, as long as 35 days, allowing the buildup of large sums. The auditor also found the receipts were not always issued in sequential order and there were numerous alterations made to the accounting records.
The four forgery counts stem from the alleged signing of “notice of discharge of lien” forms using the names of four individuals who did not authorize the acts. The grand jury presentments said the forgeries were done “with the intent to defraud or harm” Johnson County Bank and Farmers State Bank.
The four hindering secured creditors charges allege that Horne intended to hinder the enforcement of security agreements by Johnson County Bank and Farmers State Bank involving a 1998 Ford Explorer and a 1997 Chevrolet pickup truck.
The county’s insuror has already reimbursed the county for the missing money and has recently filed a lawsuit seeking restitution from Horne.