$3 million in grant money withdrawn from government agency

Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency office in Cookeville, TN. (WSMV)

A board member for the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency is asking for a review of the practice of reimbursing mayors for mileage after a News4 I-Team investigation raised questions if some mayors were pocketing the money.

UCHRA board member Randy Porter said he has asked that the topic be discussed at the next meeting.

“Some of the officials who may have given us a little bit of a black eye because of the way some things have been done. So, I think we've got to get the agency back on track,” Porter said.

The UCHRA board is made of up mayors from 14 counties on the upper Cumberland, with the agency itself providing essential services such as transportation to doctors’ appointments and Meals on Wheels.REPORTED PREVIOUSLY: Timesheet shows government official working, video & photo indicated otherwise | Records: Government officials 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 | Mayor tries to block interview, pushes reporter | Agency board knew of complaints about executive director 2 years ago | TDOT launches audit to see if UCHRA leader mishandled federal dollars | Mayors accused of pocketing taxpayer money | Cannon County newspaper calls I-Team story ‘fake news’A News 4 I-Team investigation found three mayors on the board cashed payments for mileage even though they were driving city and county vehicles, and did not pass along that money to their local municipalities.

After a local newspaper called the story “Finley’s Fake News,” the News 4 I-Team showed how we conducted our research.

Porter said he wants the board to discuss how the reimbursements are handed out and if they mayors in question should pay the money back.

There are also questions about the reimbursement policy itself.

The attorney for the UCHRA board wrote a letter to Curtis Hayes, one of the mayors whom the News 4 I-Team found was driving a city vehicle and did not pay the money to his city.

In that letter, the attorney describes the payment as a per diem reimbursement that is a reasonable expression of gratitude for board members.

Yet the human resource director for UCHRA said board members are not paid anything except for mileage reimbursement.

The date of the next board meeting has not yet been set.

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the News4 I-Team's Chief Investigative Reporter. He has won multiple Midsouth Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards.

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