County departments failing to follow state law. A clerk who admitted stealing $10,000 in fees. Five employees of the sheriff's department now facing trial on charges related to theft and rape. Those are just some of the findings of a state audit on Grainger County's government.
The report, released on Monday, highlighted what state Comptroller Justin Wilson called "a number of issues, up to and including criminal activity."
That included an employee of the county clerk's office who last year pleaded guilty to pocketing $10,000 in auto sales taxes and registration fees that were paid to the county.
It also referred to the five sheriff's office employees who were indicted by a Grainger County grand jury on charges related to theft, rape and inappropriate treatment of prisoners. That case resulted in a lawsuit against the county, and one of the five men indicted is the son of county Sheriff Scott Layel.
Other problems cited in the comptroller's report included payroll timesheets that went unsigned, an error that can lead to payroll fraud, according to the audit. Investigators also found two county departments -- the director of schools and the road superintendent's office -- failed to follow state law in the bidding process.
Wilson's office recommended Grainger County officials do a better job of financial responsibilities as well. The audit urges the county to create a centralized system for purchasing, accounting and budgeting.
“I am concerned that Grainger County had so many varied findings in this audit,” Wilson said in a statement. “I hope and trust that Grainger County officials will take these findings seriously so next year’s audit shows improvement.”