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Former Elzie Patton Elementary bookkeeper indicted

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A Wilson County Grand Jury indicted Shannon Williams, a former bookkeeper at Elzie Patton Elementary School, on one count of theft of property between $1,000 and $10,000 and one count of official misconduct.

Williams, who was terminated Nov. 15, 2013, was arrested Thursday, March 12. According to the Wilson County's Sheriff's Department, her bond was set at $2,500, and she bonded out Thursday morning. Her initial court date is set for Friday, March 27.

Mickey Hall, deputy director of schools and chief financial officer, said Williams was terminated for "always being late on reports, not attending meetings for updates on new responsibilities and not making deposits within the three day time frame as required by law," among other infractions.

After Williams was terminated, Diann Harper, who is in charge of fixed assets and bookkeeper support, conducted a thorough review of the Williams' office and files.

"When Diann walked into her office, she saw an Amazon bill on top of her desk," Hall said. "There were a lot of personal items on the bill. That prompted us to be more detailed in our review."

As soon as the personal purchases were discovered, Hall said the Tennessee Comptroller's Office was notified both by phone and in writing, as is required by law. The Comptroller's Office and the 15th Judicial District Attorney General's Office conducted the subsequent investigation. Charges against Williams were filed by the Comptroller's Office.

The investigation revealed Williams had used $8,646 in school funds for the purchase of 184 personal items.

Hall said Harper cleaned up the office and got everything organized. All of the teachers settled their accounts, and all orders were stopped until the books were put back in order. A claim was filed with the school's insurance company.

"We may or may not get any money back from the insurance company," Hall said. "The school district had to contribute around $12,000 from the general fund to get the school through the year."

As a result of the incident, which Hall said was the first time in the 22 years he's been at the school system something like this has happened, new training for administrators to talk about fraud and bookkeeper standards were implemented in January 2014.

"The principals are responsible for overseeing their bookkeepers," Hall explained. "We hold the training a minimum of once a year. Depending on principal changes, like when someone retires, it could be held twice a year. In addition, we also hold training as part of the new aspiring administrators class we do now."

Additionally, Hall said his department randomly picks a day to go to different schools and go through the books, "just to make sure everything is okay."

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