The former employee spent the money on her home mortgage, food, jewelry, clothing and iTunes songs, Wilson said. She even invested some of that money in a local gym, according to the audit.
Unlike many other state audits involving theft of taxpayer money, in which authorities already have indicted the accused government employee, officials haven’t arrested the employee yet, and they haven’t publicly identified her.
“Due to the fact that federal money is involved, this matter has been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Knoxville,” said Cortney Dugger, spokesman for Tennessee Ninth Judicial District, in a statement to Tennessee Watchdog.
Dugger couldn’t say whether local or federal officials, or both, would prosecute the case, assuming an arrest is made.
Director of Schools Brian Bell didn’t return Tennessee Watchdog’s messages seeking comment Tuesday, and neither did anyone at Knoxville’s U.S. State Attorney’s Office.
According to the audit, the former school district employee, who assisted the school district’s federal projects administrator, diverted the half-million dollars from the district and two professional organizations — the Tennessee Attendance Supervisors Steering Committee and the East Tennessee Attendance Supervisors Association — where she served as treasurer .