Stolen funds impact Boys & Girls Club club, kids

Sue Guinn Legg • Nov 25, 2013 at 7:32 AM

The $60,000 Johnson City’s former jail superintendent is accused of stealing from the Boys & Girls Club between 2004 and 2012 obviously could have made a difference for the club as it struggled through one of the most financially challenging eras in its history.

But like water under a bridge — or perhaps like water that perpetually leaked through the club’s roof and ruined its ceilings and gym floor in that era — those years and those dollars are gone.

Community members have rallied to repair the building. And new leadership and new financial policies have put the club in the best financial condition it has enjoyed in several years.

But for a facility that sits directly in the path of a planned connector road and is in search of a new location, $60,000 could go a long way. If only there is restitution.

Ask what that $60,000 would mean at this point, Robin Crumley, a former board member for the nonprofit club who took over as its executive director two years ago, offered a long list.

“Like any nonprofit, it would mean two to three months of continued sustainability,” she said. “We only owe a little bit, so it would mean being debt free. It would mean hiring in new staff for our program and taking in more kids from our waiting list.

“It would mean serving more children in this community who need after school.”

On the club’s ongoing search for a new location to make way for the city’s much discussed plan to build a business park access road from North State of Franklin through the club property on West Market Street, Crumley said, “We have found some places. But we have also found all places have issues, money being one of them.”

Then returning to the question of the $60,000 Samuel Garland is charged with taking from the club, she added, “That $60,000 might be a down payment.”

Crumley said when broached about the possibility of restitution from Garland with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the agency’s response was for the most part silence. But with a minimum eight-year prison sentence spelled out for the Class E felony he is charged with, the club is holding out hope Garland will repay the funds to mitigate his penalty.

“You would think that he would,” Crumley said.

Garland, 58, was arrested on the one-count felony theft indictment early this month after a more than year-long investigation. Police Chief Mark Sirois said the probe focused on times when he was on duty for the city and also obtaining payment from the Boys and Girls club for supervision of inmate work crews that clean the building daily.

According to the indictment, the theft continued over an eight-year period. Crumley said the total amount improperly billed to the club was just over $60,000.

“I’ve heard some feedback that this was “more bad policy,’ ” she said. “No. We were charged for services he should not have been charging. I put in new policies as soon as I came in (as director). We tightened our belts. We cut some things. We tightened all the checks and balances.

“The question was asked. Past directors ask the question. I kept asking the question because I was filing the W-2 and W-4s, paying the taxes, doing all the things you do for an employee.

“The question was ‘why are we paying you this?’ But the answer he gave was a lie.

“He was here with the girls, the female inmates, from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week except for the weeks he was on vacation or we were closed. The (early) hours made it seem reasonable. It was the city that uncovered the double dipping,” she said.

Garland retired form his longtime position as superintendent of the Johnson City Dentention Center in November 2012.

His son David Garland, who worked part-time for the city’s Park and Recreation Department and full-time as a public safety officer at East Tennessee State University, has also been indicted on a charge of felony theft and two charges of official misconduct stemming from the investigation.

David Garland is accused of logging more than $10,000 worth of work hours with the city at the same time he was on duty at ETSU and with allowing two female inmates who were under his supervision at a city golf course to become visibly intoxicated. He resigned form ETSU in October 2012.

Court dates for both men are scheduled for January.

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