Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper has filed suit seeking the removal of Lewis County Trustee Clark D. Carroll from office for allegedly stealing approximately $45,000 from his office and falsifying financial records to conceal the theft, Cooper announced today.
The ouster lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon in the Lewis County Circuit Court based on information uncovered during a Tennessee Comptroller's audit. Carroll was elected as Lewis County Trustee and took office on Sept. 1, 2010. The suit alleges that he wrote checks payable to himself or to cash and failed to deposit cash received by his office for the payment of property taxes on numerous occasions totaling approximately $45,000 between Oct. 24, 2011 and June 15, 2013. The lawsuit further alleges Carroll admitted to state investigators that he unlawfully took the funds for personal use.
As Trustee of Lewis County, Carroll is paid $58,739 per year to collect taxes from Lewis County citizens. His term expires Aug. 31, 2014. Based on state law, the Attorney General is required to investigate allegations of wrongdoing and institute ouster proceedings against a public officer if there is reasonable cause to believe the officer has violated the law in connection with the duties of his office.
The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury began conducting an annual audit of Carroll's office in July 2012. Auditors found that Carroll wrote checks from the county's bank account to himself and subsequently cashed the checks. The audit also found that cash received by Carroll's office had not been deposited into county accounts. Further investigation revealed that Carroll fabricated information on check memos, check stubs, and false receipts for deposits. The lawsuit cites Carroll for theft of property, official misconduct, forgery, failure to deposit official funds, and failure to reimburse public funds.
The Attorney General's Office has asked the Court to suspend Carroll pending final adjudication of the case and has requested a hearing.