TDOT launches audit to see if UCHRA mishandled federal dollars - WSMV News 4

TDOT launches audit to see if UCHRA leader mishandled federal dollars


State auditors have alerted the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency that they intend to scrutinize if executive director Luke Collins instructed employees to ultimately “falsify their time” when it came to billing federal grant money.

The audit comes after former UCHRA finance director Eulanda Goolsby wrote in her grievance that she witnessed Collins advise directors that they should strongly recommend and/or encourage the county staff to bill their time to transportation, even if they weren’t doing transportation work.

The claim concerns TDOT as the agency provided eleven different grants from federal dollars to UCHRA to pay for transportation services and nothing else.

“There are federal funds involved here. There are very specific guidelines for how those funds are supposed to be used,” said B.J. Doughty, TDOT communications director.

The grant money was to be used to provide transportation services for the poor and elderly in 14 different counties.

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: Timesheet shows government official working; video & photos indicate otherwise | Records: Government official paid to attend certain meetings but didn’t show up | Designed for transit of poor, vehicle used to travel to political event | Embattled agency director placed on administrative leave | Agency board knew of complaints about executive director 2 years ago

Not only did Goolsby raise the concern, but so did UCHRA board chairman Kenneth Carey, who stated in a Dec. 19, 2017, meeting that he too had been made aware that Collins had told employees to charge their extra time to transportation because it had plenty of money.

In addition to the audit, TDOT is also requesting more documentation from UCHRA about Collins use of a transit van to haul campaign signs and travel to and from a partisan political event.

TDOT only wishes to know if UCHRA billed grant money for that trip, something UCHRA’s transportation director told the News 4 I-Team did not occur.

Chairman Greg Wilson said last week that he was concerned that TDOT could frown upon handing out grants following the political trip.

“We could be at a loss for those grants, that's very serious,” Wilson said.

Our emails for comment to Collins’ attorney were not returned by our deadline.

The News 4 I-team did obtain an open record request by Collins’ attorney requesting everything employees provided to the News 4 I-Team.

The UCHRA board voted Tuesday to choose a local attorney to launch an independent investigation into Collins, who was placed on administrative leave with pay last week.

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