Federal investigators focus on city's General Services division

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Federal investigators have turned their scopes on the Memphis City General Services division amid an internal investigation of contracts set up under the previous mayoral administration to fix the city's car fleet.

Monday, officials confirmed the City Attorney's office has handed over canceled checks, contracts, emails and invoices from two General Services Division contracts established under former Mayor Willie Herenton to the FBI.

Action News 5 first learned of the city's internal investigation of Around Town Tire and Trucking last month. Over the years, the contract to fix city tire flats quadrupled from about $300,000 to more than $1 million per year.

The city has been trying to determine if payments match with actual service records.

So far, it's unclear why a second company, Bass Annie Cosmetic Boat & Auto Repairs, is being examined by investigators. The company performs auto body repair on damaged city vehicles.

City officials also confirm they've sent emails from former General Services Director Estrice Boone.  His signature had to be on both contracts.

Memphis City Council member Kemp Conrad put the division on the radar last year when he questioned why Boone was driving a souped up city car with shimmery red paint, tinted windows and a Hemi emblem.

Though Mayor AC Wharton fired Boone shortly after being inaugurated, Boone always maintained his innocence, saying he saved the city money and that upgrades to his city car cost no extra money.

The City Attorney and an independent accounting firm are also investigating another General Services contract, after the city spent close to a million dollars since 2004 on the pricey oil additive X-52, which was supposed to help the city's automotive fleet get better gas mileage.

Neither Estrice Boone or the owners of both companies could be reached for comment Monday.

City officials stressed Monday that no one person, including Boone, is the target of this investigation.

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