Former city employee arraigned on theft charge

Published 4:40 pm Friday, January 26, 2018

A former Elizabethton Electric Department employee appeared in Criminal Court Friday to be arraigned on charges alleging he stole electrical services from the system.

Jared Michael McKinney, 44, of 126 Morton Road, Hampton, appeared before Criminal Court Judge Lisa Rice on a charge of theft of property more than $2,500 and less than $10,000.

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Attorney Bill Hampton stepped to the podium with McKinney during the appearance and informed the court McKinney and he had been in talks regarding legal representation. Hampton asked the court for a brief continuance in the case to allow time for McKinney to make the financial arrangements to hire him. Rice granted the request.

The case was originally set to be placed on the trial docket for Judge Stacy Street, but Hampton informed the court there may be a potential conflict with Street hearing the case. Hampton explained that the case involves the City of Elizabethton as the alleged victim and that Street’s sister serves on the Elizabethton Planning Commission. He also said Street is “related in some way” to the Elizabethton City Manager.

“Out of an abundance of caution we can leave him on my docket,” Rice said in response.

McKinney is scheduled to return to Carter County Criminal Court on March 22.

The charges against McKinney stem from an investigation by the Carter County Sheriff’s Office into a complaint from the Elizabethton Electric System alleging that McKinney stole electrical services from the agency.

According to police reports, Elizabethton Electric Department Director Robert Toney contacted the Sheriff’s Office on August 15, 2017, to report the theft of services from the utility.

Toney told officers that McKinney, a former employee of the Elizabethton Electric Department, and another former employee had bypassed the electric meter at 699 McCloud Road to avoid paying for power usage, CCSO Deputy Christian Carrier said in a police report. McKinney previously lived at 699 McCloud Road prior to going through divorce proceedings.

“Mr. Toney stated approximately $3,200 – $3,300 worth of services were stolen,” Carrier said.

Toney told the officer that pictures had been taken on May 16, 2017, and June 5, 2017, which showed the alterations made to the electrical components. Some time on June 5, 2017, after the photo had been taken the unit was returned to the proper working order, according to the report.

Carrier notes in his report that Toney had “a large packet of paperwork, statements, and photographs,” that he wished to turn over to investigators.

The case was assigned to CCSO Investigator Sgt. Travis Ludlow. On Nov. 1, Ludlow presented the findings of his investigation to the Grand Jury, which handed down the indictment later that same day.

Deputies arrested McKinney on Nov. 8, 2017, and he was released from the Carter County Detention Center later that same day after posting a $5,000 bond.