Lenoir City Records Investigation Almost Wrapped Up

Dan Bell, The Daily Digest

Several weeks ago the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began an investigation into city personnel records that had evidently been missing from the City Recorder's Office in Lenoir City and some how ended up in the hands of a Knoxville New Sentinel reporter. 

According to reports and information gained by this reporter the TBI Special Agent assigned to the case has completed interviews of a number of city employees and present, as well as former officials, including former city recorders Debbie Cook and Bobby Johnson. 

The missing records were reprimands and reports of possible employee misconduct involving time card violations, a small cash shortage in the operations drawer and a failure to record a credit card payment for a traffic citation that resulted in the unnecessary arrest of the individual that paid their citation.

When contacted by this reporter District Attorney General Russell Johnson acknowledged that the investigation was "mostly complete", but that he was in the process of contacting the Knoxville News Sentinel about how they obtained the missing information since it was "not merely a situation of the paper receiving copies of records, but the actual records themselves". 

Johnson stated, "This is not merely a "whistle blower" situation in the sense that someone made copies of records that they feel should be made public, but it appears someone removed the records that belonged in personnel files from the Recorder's Office...possibly illegally, making it a theft depending on what authorization they had to access those records.
Johnson refused to speculate as to whether he felt the News Sentinel would volunteer the information as to who gave them the records or whether his office would have to pursue a court order to try to obtain that information.  "Right now," Johnson stated, "the investigation is at a standstill until we have their information." 

He did emphasize that the records dealt with situations that occurred under a prior mayoral administration and that the employee conduct that was addressed in the reprimands had been dealt with by the prior recorder and administration and would probably not result in criminal charges since they were administrative in nature.