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Hargis indicted for official misconduct

Posted on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Hubert Dewayne “Turkey” Hargis

Former Grundy County Roads Superintendent Hubert Dewayne “Turkey” Hargis was taken into custody on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. He was indicted for eight counts of official misconduct. His bond was set at $15,000.

Last year, the State Comptroller’s Office opened an investigation on Hargis.  The investigation returned three findings. The results of the investigation can be seen below.

This is an evolving story; please check back for updates.

State Comptroller Investigation

FINDING 1

“The highway department performed work on some private properties and cemeteries Our investigation revealed the highway department performed work on at least two private properties as well as several cemeteries using highway department employees and equipment as noted below:

Highway Department Office Entrance to farm used by the superintendent Grundy County Highway Department

“A. The highway superintendent has cattle on an individual’s farm and at various times over approximately nine years, the highway department performed work on this individual’s farm using department employees and equipment. For example, our investigation determined that employees bulldozed stumps and hauled the stumps, dirt, and old tile to fill in a hollow below the dam of a pond on the farm. This work served no highway department purpose. The investigation also revealed the highway superintendent did not lease the farm nor did the owner charge him rent on the farm for the period he has used it. The highway superintendent stated that he began using the farm when he purchased the individual’s cattle.

Partial view of area “cleaned up”

Widened right-of-way and gate

“B. Our investigation revealed the highway department performed work on a second individual’s farm. While working on a county road, the highway department widened the right-of-way along a section of the road. A portion of this widened section had a gated entrance to the backside of the farm. The highway department left the right-of-way and drove a bulldozer onto the farm where they “cleaned up” a wooded area. The owner of the farm stated that someone had moved the fence and gate further back from the county road, but she was not aware of any bulldozer work performed on the farm. Neither the owner nor the highway superintendent farm this property; however, it is farmed by an acquaintance of the superintendent. We could not determine if the highway superintendent received any compensation for the work performed on this farm.

Views of the cemetery area where work was performed

“C. Our investigation also revealed that the highway department performed nonroad-related work at various cemeteries. We observed a highway department low-boy truck and trailer, a bulldozer, and a track-hoe at one cemetery. It appeared the equipment had been located at the area for quite some time, and that a wooded area had been cleared, but we could not determine the full extent of the work performed. The superintendent stated that he had worked on several cemeteries in the county, and that he did not receive any compensation for this work. Section 54-7-202(d), Tennessee Code Annotated, states: “Neither the chief administrative officer nor any other official or employee of the county may use any county vehicle, equipment, supplies or road materials for other than official county road purposes.…” Section 54-7-202(e) states: “A violation of the section is a Class C misdemeanor. Each separate use of the same for other than authorized purposes constitutes a separate offense and is subject to a separate punishment.” 

Additional view of cemetery where work was performed

RECOMMENDATION: Highway department employees and equipment should be used only for official county road purposes as provided by the Tennessee County Uniform Highway Law.”

 

 

 

FINDING 2

Gate in lower left of driveway picture

The highway department maintains a portion of a private road for a department employee The highway department maintains a county road that is approximately one-tenth of a mile in length, which serves a Head Start facility and only one property owner who happens to be a highway department employee. The employee’s home is beyond the end of the county road where someone in the past erected a gate at the entrance to the employee’s property. However, we were unable to determine how often the gate was used by the employee. The highway superintendent advised us that the department maintains a portion of the road on the employee’s private property. Section 54-7-202(d), Tennessee Code Annotated, states: “Neither the chief administrative officer nor any other official or employee of the county may use any county vehicle, equipment, supplies or road materials for other than official county road purposes.…” Section 54-7-202(e) states: “A violation of the section is a Class C misdemeanor. Each separate use of the same for other than authorized purposes constitutes a separate offense and is subject to a separate punishment.”

RECOMMENDATION: Highway department employees and equipment should be used only for official county road purposes as provided by the Tennessee County Uniform Highway Law.”

 

FINDING 3

Personal vehicle in highway department garage after repairs and truck bed were reattached

“The highway superintendent allowed employees to work on personal vehicles in the highway department garage during work hours The highway superintendent allowed employees to work on personal vehicles in the highway department garage during normal work hours using department tools and equipment. During our investigation, a vehicle associated with one employee was inside the department’s maintenance garage with the bed removed from the frame. We subsequently noted the bed had been placed back.

“We asked the highway superintendent who the vehicle belonged to, and he named an employee and stated they used the lift to replace the fuel pump on the trucks. In addition, we asked an employee what work had been performed on the truck, and he stated that the fuel pump had been changed, and the frame had been painted. Section 54-7-202(d), Tennessee Code Annotated, states: “Neither the chief administrative officer nor any other official or employee of the county may use any county vehicle, equipment, supplies or road materials for other than official county road purposes.”

RECOMMENDATION: Employees of the highway department should not perform work on personal vehicles during regular work hours.”