A local woman is accused of stealing nearly $120,000 from a Sweetwater assisted living center.

An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has resulted in the indictment of Mariam Renee Wells, the former controller of Wood Presbyterian Home, Inc. in Sweetwater.

Wood Presbyterian Home is an 89-bed nonprofit assisted living facility that is funded by Medicare, Medicaid (TennCare), private insurance and personal payments. The controller is responsible for accounting records and financial reporting.

Comptroller investigators determined that Wells allegedly stole at least $118,768 between March 1, 2014, and May 31, 2018. Wells was apparently able to steal the money by keeping cash that she was supposed to deposit in the facility’s bank account.

Because Wells was also responsible for the reconciling bank statements with the accounting records, she was reportedly able to avoid detection for more than four years.

In May 2018, Wells allegedly became concerned that her theft was about to be discovered. She reportedly informed the facility’s executive director that she had embezzled at least $20,000.

During that same meeting, she reportedly tendered a $20,000 personal check and resigned from her position effective May 31, 2018. Wells later allegedly admitted to comptroller investigators that she stole cash for her personal use and further admitted that the comptroller’s calculation of $118,768 in stolen money was “probably correct.”

In January 2020, the Monroe County Grand Jury indicted Wells on one count of theft over $60,000.

“It’s vital that government entities, nonprofits and other organizations separate financial responsibilities between more than one individual,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “In this case, the same person responsible for the accounting records was also involved in preparing cash for deposit, taking the cash to the bank and performing bank reconciliations.”

To view the investigative report, go to: https://comptroller.tn.gov/office -functions/investigations/find.html

To report suspected 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: www.comptroller.tn.gov/hotline.

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