District attorney: No criminal charges from comptroller's investigation of Carter County Animal Shelter

John Thompson • Dec 12, 2017 at 8:02 PM

ELIZABETHTON — There won’t be any criminal charges filed after a Tennessee Comptroller’s Office investigation found thousands of dollars missing from the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter.

“After going through the report, I don’t find any evidence of criminal activity to pursue,” First Judicial District Attorney General Tony Clark said.

The comptroller’s office issued the report last week, finding a cash shortage of $9,516.

Clark said the report makes clear that the former director of the shelter had distributed $6,682 to the Friends of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter because that organization had paid for veterinary services prior to dogs and cats being rescued.

Clark said the proper procedure would have been for those funds to have been sent through the Carter County Trustee’s Office so the reimbursement would have been properly accounted. He said there was a small amount of money that could not be accounted for.

The district attorney general said the finding in the report that came closest to a crime were allegations that some people had turned their pets into the shelter to take advantage of free or low-cost veterinarian services. Once at the shelter, the animals would receive services and inoculations at taxpayer expense, then were readopted by their former owners.

Clark said there could have been a case of fraud, but the charge would probably have been a misdemeanor theft over $100. Even that could not have been prosecuted in most cases, because the statute of limitations had expired, Clark said.

The comptroller’s investigation took about 18 months to complete after Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey requested it during the summer of 2016, when his office took direct control of the shelter during a feline epidemic.

Clark said he met with investigators four or five times. He said the investigation had a large amount of documents to go over and the comptroller’s office was understaffed.

Although the comptroller’s report will result in no criminal charges, Humphrey is still investigating the shelter not only in Tennessee, but in other states where the dogs and cats from the shelter may have been adopted.

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