Cumberland Co. veterans official took $130K+ for personal use - WSMV News 4

Cumberland Co. veterans official took more than $130K for personal use

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Mark A. Daniels Mark A. Daniels

An audit released today details how a former Cumberland County veterans service officer used more than $130,000 for his personal use over a three-year period.

The audit by the Tennessee Comptroller's Office, showed that Mark A. Daniels, a veterans service officer, had taken at least $134,244.58. Due to Daniels' poor record-keeping, the amount taken may have been higher, according to the report.

The Cumberland County Veteran's Service Office, which had been an independent organization dedicated to assisting veterans and their families in obtaining government benefits, became a department of Cumberland County government in 2009.

Daniels, a veterans service officer, created a separate bank account in the name of the organization prior to the transition and maintained that bank account, independent of county control, in the years following the transition up until his termination last year.

Between July 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2012, the Comptroller's investigators determined that he had converted office funds for his personal use through a variety of methods, including:

• Writing checks from the office bank account to himself and his wife.

• Issuing numerous checks to vendors and citizens from the account that appeared to be used to obtain cash rather than assistance for veterans.

• Withdrawing cash from the account.

• Withholding cash donations that should have been deposited into the account.

• Depositing checks from private citizens and other veteran organizations into his personal bank account instead of the office account.

• Using the office account's debit card to make purchases that appeared unrelated to assistance for veterans.

Although Daniels repaid some of the missing funds, the Comptroller's investigation indicated there was still an unpaid shortage of more than $112,000 as of Sept. 30, 2012.

Daniels was placed on administrative leave during the investigation and later fired. He was indicted by the Cumberland County Grand Jury on theft charges last fall.

"This type of abuse of the public trust – systematic and long-running – cannot be tolerated," Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a news release. "It is shameful that public funds intended to help the brave men and women who have served our country so honorably would be diverted from their intended purpose. I commend the work of our investigators and the other law enforcement officials involved in bringing Mr. Daniels' actions to light."

Click to view the report online.

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