Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Chattanooga Mayor says criminal activity may decrease

New Chattanooga Mayor Littlefield started auditing departments when he took office. The result was a boatload of indictments. The Mayor optimistically predicts the criminal activity will diminish.


In the 2 1/2 years since, a dozen current or former city employees and contractors have been charged with stealing from the city after audits uncovered reports of theft and official misconduct. In response to questions raised by other audits, the city also revamped policies in its own departments and cut city support for Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, a nonprofit agency that promotes home ownership for low-income families.


"People shouldn't expect this (level of criminal charges against employees) to continue," Mr. Littlefield said.

The indictments have been concentrated in the city's Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Neighborhood Services. In both city offices, supervisors, employees and outside contractors are accused of illegally taking money or supplies from the city. Most of those charged are awaiting trial, according to Hamilton County Criminal Court records.

The problems first were uncovered by the city's internal auditors, who turned their findings over to the fraud division of the Chattanooga Police Department and the Hamilton County District Attorney's office for investigation and prosecution.