Two Tennessee cops were indicted and arrested last week for allegedly stealing more than $175,000 from a taxpayer funded police association, the state Comptroller’s Office said Monday.
According to officials, Washington County sheriff’s Maj. Gary Bradley and retired Sparta police Lt. Robert Hall stole the money over a four year period from the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Officers Association – a nonprofit organization funded primarily through a grant from the governor’s highway safety office.
Consisting of approximately 400 law enforcement training officers, TLETOA’s primary purpose is to train police personnel throughout the state. Hall worked as treasurer of the organization and Bradley served as project director.
Officials say the men acquired association funds for their personal benefit between May 2010 and October 2013, and have each been charged with forgery, conspiracy, and theft of over $60,000 after a White County grand jury indicted them on Jan. 4.
Hall is accused of writing unauthorized checks to himself totaling at least $87,850, and Bradley is accused of accepting checks that he knew were unauthorized totaling $87,850.
“Over about a four-year period, these two gentlemen paid themselves unauthorized pay to the tune of about $88-thousand dollars apiece,” state Comptroller’s Office public information officer John Dunn said. “It’s very disappointing when you have two individuals, two law enforcement officers, stealing money from this association.”
In 2013 alone, Hall and Bradley allegedly issued $103,200 worth of checks to themselves – more than 41 percent of TLETOA’s total funding. Officials say the men used several methods to conceal their crimes.
Primarily these included Bradley forging signatures on documents of two TLETOA presidents to falsely make it seem like the payments had been approved. In addition, Hall is said to have omitted the checks from his financial reports to the board.
Both men worked full time for their respective law enforcement agencies at the time of the thefts. Hall has since retired from the Sparta police department but Bradley is still employed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. After the indictments however, he is reportedly in the process of being terminated.
Officials say none of the 14 current and former TLETOA board members that were interviewed by investigators said they remembered any board discussion to approve the unauthorized payments to the officers.
TLETOA Board President Rick Baker said that in light of the revelations, the association has taken several steps to ensure that such a mishap cannot happen again in the future.
These include greater controls and monitoring of outgoing disbursements, the implementation of a multiple signature policy required on all checks, and greater transparency in relation to financial statements.
“TLETOA members and the general public can have confidence that the changes we’ve made will prevent similar situations from arising in the future,” Baker said in a statement. “We are moving beyond this distraction and continuing our mission of serving Tennesseans and Tennessee law enforcement agencies.”
Bradley and Hall have reportedly been released from the White County jail in lieu of $10,000 bond. Their criminal trial will move forward in the coming months.