Comptroller: Former Bristol-Bluff City Utilities District manager embezzled nearly $300,000 | Rogersville

BRiSTOL, Tennessee — An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has resulted in four counts of theft against Tina Grindstaff, who served as Bristol-Bluff City’s Utilities District Manager from 2008 to 2019 until 6 June 2019.

Comptroller investigators found that Grindstaff misappropriated at least $294,810.71 of district funds by paying himself unauthorized compensation. This compensation included payments for overtime, holidays, vacations and bonuses that were not authorized by the District Board of Commissioners or Grindstaff’s employment contract.

In addition to paying itself unauthorized compensation, Grindstaff paid employee bonuses totaling at least $24,025 that were not approved by the Board of Commissioners. These bonuses were not reflected on employees’ annual W-2 forms.

The investigation also reveals that Grindstaff made questionable payments and provided life insurance to his father totaling at least $132,907.13.

Additionally, Grindstaff made questionable payments to his aunt totaling $24,200. Investigators were unable to find sufficient documentation and board authorization to substantiate these payments.

Finally, Grindstaff made questionable purchases and withdrawals totaling $13,897.33. Some of those disbursements included money for boat repairs (see photo attached), pool equipment, vet fees, a karaoke machine and tanning bed bulbs. Investigators could not determine whether these disbursements were exclusively for the benefit of the district.

In July 2021, the Sullivan County Grand Jury indicted Tina L. Grindstaff with one count of theft over $250,000, one count of theft over $60,000, and two more counts of theft of $2,500.

“There are a number of operations that need strengthening in this utility district,” Comptroller Jason Mumpower said. “These include adopting specific personnel policies on remuneration, maintaining an up-to-date equipment inventory list and acquiring a reliable accounting system to ensure the accuracy of financial statements. I am pleased to see that the Commissioners are taking steps to address these issues.

If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of public funds in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at 800.232.5454 or file a report online at: tncot.cc/fraud. Follow us on Twitter @TNCOT and Instagram @tncot

Daniel E. Murphy