Jail chief quits
Stephanie Myers News-Herald.net
Former Loudon County Jail Administrator Teresa Smith has resigned from her post following a state investigation involving missing inmate funds.

Sheriff Tim Guider confirmed Smith’s resignation Thursday, saying that $7,327 had been reported missing from the Loudon County Jail’s commissary fund, which is money taken off inmates while they are housed at the jail. Guider said he expects charges to follow the investigation.

Guider said he was alerted to the discrepancy Aug. 22 when a routine yearly audit by the state Comptroller’s Office turned up the shortage.

“It would be money the inmates had when they would come in the jail,” Guider said. “Then when they get out of jail we write them a check for whatever amount that was.”

He then alerted Ninth Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson, who called in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation last week. TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland said TBI investigations began Aug. 25.

“It’s currently an active and ongoing investigation,” Niland said, declining to comment further.

Discrepancies totaled $7,327 and began to appear in the books in January, Guider said.

Guider said some duties had been taken away from Smith, though she maintained her lieutenant status, about two months ago, when she was replaced by Lt. Jake Keener.

“We had no knowledge of this going on. We separated some duties and put Jake Keener as a lieutenant as well as over the operations and put her in charge of handling the administration, but as far as handling the personnel, Jake Keener was placed in that position,” Guider said. “(Keener) had no relation to what’s transpired since then. It was a surprise to everyone.”

Guider said no other discrepancies have been found in the audit of the jail.

John Dunn, spokesman for the Comptroller’s Office, said the audit in Loudon County, which will cover all government entities in the county, continues.

“We audit 89 of Tennessee’s 95 counties each year. The other six counties are audited by a third party which we contract with and those are the four largest counties as well as the two smaller ones,” Dunn said. “We audit all of the different departments within that county from the schools to the trustee’s office to the sheriff’s office to the clerks.”

Dunn said the final audit report, which is scheduled to be released early in the audit cycle, was not complete.

“Our audit schedule is flexible from year to year. I can tell you that Loudon County’s draft       audit is due in the Nashville office in October. It is likely the final report will be released to the public in November,” Dunn said in a follow-up email correspondence.

“At that time any findings related to the commissary will be included in that audit report,” he added.

Cortney Dugger, spokesman for the Ninth Judicial District, said an internal investigation routinely involves the district attorney and TBI.

“There is no set time frame on the investigations,” Dugger said. “The comptroller they look at all of us, any government entity that basically handles money. They go in and check your books and make sure everything reconciles.”

“It’s a typical open investigation, can’t say a whole lot. That’s all we can say at this point,” he added.

No charges against Smith had been filed in the Loudon County Jail as of late Friday.

Guider said “it doesn’t appear” that any other employees are involved in the discrepancy. Smith had been with the department 19 years.

“The rest of it is in the hands of the district attorney’s office,” Guider said.