In Shelby Commission: FBI probe, censures, office parties

A $3.2 million accounting discrepancy uncovered in a General Sessions Civil Court audit kicked off a heated two-hour debate Wednesday in a Shelby County Commission committee meeting.
A $3.2 million accounting discrepancy uncovered in a General Sessions Civil Court audit kicked off a heated two-hour debate Wednesday in a Shelby County Commission committee meeting.

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A $3.2 million accounting discrepancy uncovered in a General Sessions Civil Court audit kicked off a heated two-hour debate Wednesday in a Shelby County Commission committee meeting.

Otis Jackson said when he first became General Sessions Court Clerk, he told the Commissioners his predecessor's faulty accounting software had resulted in unreconciled bank statements.

After Jackson agreed to work with auditors on the problem, County Attorney Brian Kuhn wanted a chance to respond to a letter Jackson recently sent him.  Jackson letter said Kuhn should have told him about an FBI request for the audits.

"I certainly apologized to the clerk that he did not receive a notice of the FBI request of for public information," Kuhn said. "It is our policy to do so. In fact, we did."

Kuhn said his paralegal emailed Jackson.

Commissioner James Harvey asked why Kuhn did not call Jackson on such a sensitive issue.

"Maybe I should have called the clerk directly," Kuhn said. "I apologize that I didn't. I'll be happy to do that in the future."

Another whopper uncovered by the audit committee came in the form of holiday party expenditures:

  • General Sessions clerk staff luncheon: $724.26
  • A Christmas banquet: $3,540.00
  • A Sheriff's Christmas party: $607.35
  • Juvenile Court holiday open house: $1,037.23
  • Juvenile Court holiday office party: $500
  • Trustee catered meal: $724
  • Trustee catered meal:  $743
  • Trustee lunch: $402

Clerks said they held the gatherings to encourage employees in the absence of pay raises.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, Interim Commissioner John Pelicciotti moved to censure the Chancery, General Sessions and Probate Court clerks over the accounting problems.

Commissioner Sydney Chism spoke out.

"At the end of the day, it's all political," he said.
     
Pelicciotti is running against Probate Court Clerk Chris Thomas for a seat on the Shelby County Commission.  Jackson, meanwhile, is running for Shelby County mayor.

Pelicciotti couldn't get another commissioner to second his censure motion, so in the end, no one was censured.

Meanwhile, a court clerk team is going to Nashville Thursday to check on new accounting software to rectify the $3.2 million discrepancy.

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