Former Greene County Sheriff’s Department Employee Pleads Guilty to Theft

Published 11:22 am Wednesday, May 19, 2021

An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has resulted in the guilty plea of Stewart Cowles, a former IT system administrator for the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.
 
Investigators determined that Cowles misappropriated $49,826.20 from the county by engaging in a number of improper practices. These issues are presented below:
 
• Cowles used a sheriff’s department credit card to make apparent personal purchases on Amazon totaling at least $29,554.14. Some examples of these purchases include a hot tub, an espresso machine, gaming items, and a Bose Speaker System. Cowles altered the invoices that he provided to the county to disguise the purchases as technology equipment for the department.
• Cowles submitted timesheets to the sheriff’s department and the Greeneville Police Department – where he also worked as an IT administrator – for the same work hours. Cowles was paid at least $19,490.46 by the county for 1,592.25 hours in which he claimed to work at both jobs simultaneously.
• Cowles activated a county paid cell phone line for one of his family members. The county paid $726.03 for approximately 14 months use on this line.
• Cowles continued to use a county paid cell phone number after his employment ended on September 1, 2018. The cost of the usage was approximately $55.57.
In May 2021, David Cowles pled guilty to one count of theft over $10,000.
 
“It is important for government entities to not only review invoices, but also document that all goods have been received,” said Comptroller Jason Mumpower. “This necessary step helps diminish the risk that a government will pay for something that never arrived in its offices.”
 
To view the investigative report, go to: https://comptroller.tn.gov/office-functions/investigations/find.html
 
If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at 800.232.5454, or file a report online at: tncot.cc/fraud. Follow us on twitter @TNCOT and Instagram @tncot

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