Masson to temporarily take over city division as consultant

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - After an audit revealed that Memphis' Fleet Services Division has understated income by $700,000 since last October, two employees were placed on paid leave Friday, and the mayor said the investigation is far from over.

The audit revealed 68 deficiencies that range from insufficient monitoring of money to lack of procedures and training.  While internal investigations are in progress, Mayor A C Wharton is attempting to stop the bleeding.  

"Quite frankly, the reports that we've seen so far really only are scratching the surface," Wharton said at a press conference Friday.

To identify problems that likely started during former mayor Willie Herenton's administration, Wharton announced Friday he has hired Herenton's former CAO Rick Masson, as a private consultant.  Masson will take over the General Services division for 90 days.  

"My only directive to him is to dig, dig, dig, report, report, report," Wharton said. "Give it to me and say, 'Mayor, here's how you need to straighten it out."

Masson will make $37,500 for three months of consulting work.

"My purpose is to give him a road map going forward," Masson said.

In the meantime, two General Services employees were put on paid leave.  

"One is Annette Clay, who had some responsibilities in terms of purchasing and such, and the other is Terleta Hampton, who is the compliance officer for the division," city CAO George Little said.

While the city does more digging, other employees face losing their jobs and possible criminal charges down the line.       

"Based on what I have seen, that is a distinct possibility, but I'm going let law enforcement people deal with that," Wharton said.

Wharton added that his goal is to have the General Services Division cleaned up and running smoothly within the next six months.

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