A recent investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office reportedly uncovered a deficiency in the City of Sweetwater government.

According to a report released Friday by the comptroller’s office, the city has an “internal control deficiency” resulting from the lack of a policy “to prohibit scavenging recyclable materials.”

The report indicated that City of Sweetwater Streets Department officials have “indicated that they have corrected or will correct this deficiency.”

The investigation began as a result of “allegations of malfeasance” against the street department that department employees were “selling scrap metal collected by inmates.”

The report noted that the street department uses two inmates from the Monroe County jail for “various jobs” related to the streets.

However, the report alleges that “Monroe County jail inmates collected and sold scrap metal under the supervision of department employees” from a dumpster behind the department building.

In what the report called a “long-standing practice,” the cash would then allegedly be used by the inmates for buying “lunches, snacks, drinks and tobacco products.”

The cash collected was reportedly “maintained and informally accounted for by department employees.”

Comptroller’s office investigators reportedly found evidence of a check totaling $84.45 and $122.61 in cash paid by the recycling center for scrap metal in May of 2019.

The check was apparently made payable to a department employee and “property remitted to the city recorder’s office; but the cash from the same transaction was unaccounted.”

According to the report, “investigators could not determine how much money department employees and inmates received from the sale of scrap metal due to inadequate records at the department and recycling center.”

The report also indicated that Tennessee Code Annotated 62-9-111(b) “requires payments for scrap metal sold by a governmental entity be made by check or money order payable to the governmental entity; and mailed to the business address of the governmental entity.”

The report added that “the lack of management oversight in the department, the lack of a formal recyclable materials policy, and the failure to follow state law, resulted in lost revenue for the city.”

It also points out that “the department advised investigators that it no longer allows inmates to collect and sell scrap metal.”

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