Lawyer: ‘Cynthia Finch is innocent’ Knoxville News Sentinel

19 мая 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

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Cynthia Finch leaves the Knox County Detention Facility on Maloneyville Road after she surrendered Wednesday.

Knox County Chaos

KNOXVILLE — Cynthia Finch, the former Knox County senior community services director accused of forgery and faking evidence, has cooperated with investigators every step of the way and will fight all charges, her lawyer said today.

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Cynthia Finch is innocent of these allegations, and we’re looking forward to her opportunity in court to tell her side of the story, defense lawyer Bob Jolley said. She’s made herself available. She’s talked to the TBI and done everything she should to assist them as a citizen who’s now wrongfully accused.

More than $2,000 in questionable receipts led to the criminal charges against Finch, who left under a cloud last year. She turned herself in today to face three charges of forgery and fabricating evidence after a year-long investigation.

A grand jury charged Finch on Tuesday in a 17-page sealed presentment with fabricating receipts for about $2,200 in FedEx/Kinko’s charges. She surrendered just before 2 p.m. at the Knox County Detention Facility on Maloneyville Road and was released after booking on $10,000 bond.

The list of witnesses against Finch includes Nathan Mishu, the copy store clerk who created the receipts. His lawyer, Gregory P. Isaacs, says he did the right thing and will face no charges.

Mr. Mishu cooperated fully with the TBI regarding this investigation, Isaacs said. The allegations contained in this presentment substantiate what we said on Day One — that Nathan Mishu did not do anything improper, illegal or inappropriate as relates to Ms. Finch. I have spoken with the TBI this afternoon, and they have confirmed there will not be any charges against Nathan Mishu regarding his involvement in this matter.

The charges — two counts of forgery and one count of fabricating evidence — came after Finch’s departure from office, countless audits and more than a year of scrutiny by a special prosecutor and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The presentment, which includes copies of the questionable receipts, differs from a typical indictment. Mike Meyer, a deputy state attorney general, took the results of TBI Agent Andy Corbitt’s case directly to a grand jury.

Meyer will prosecute the case, with help from Bill Bright, a Shelby County assistant district attorney general who specializes in white-collar crime.

Last week, the state Attorney General issued a report that cleared Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale and most of his top aides from possible criminal charges in audits that have highlighted misspending in the mayor’s office.

Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. said his conclusions didn’t encompass possible wrongdoing by Finch. Officials didn’t give specifics.

Cooper’s investigation, which began last July, followed a series of audits that revealed sloppy record-keeping and misappropriations of county funds, including some that, according to the state Comptroller’s Office and Knox County Internal Auditor Richard Walls, violated state law.

An audit by Walls concluded Finch faked receipts for 12 FedEx/Kinko’s charges — a total of $2,218.17 — and reported Mishu’s account of creating the receipts for Finch at her request. Finch has denied that.

Finch, former Finance Director John Werner and two other aides lost their jobs as spending issues — including a cruise charged to a county purchasing card and a lavish lobster lunch for a county commissioner — came to light. County commissioners censured Ragsdale as a result and sent the findings on to prosecutors.

The scope of the investigation expanded as the series of audits piled up.

One audit found tens of thousands of dollars in questionable purchasing-card expenditures, including employees who used their cards for personal use and the accusation that Finch fabricated the receipts.

The attorney general had pegged the amount of unverified charges for Ragsdale and staff at $50,195. Of that amount, Ragsdale and his staff repaid $15,295 and the mayor transferred $1,084 from the hospitality fund to cover a portion of the expenditures.

The remainder was deemed to have been for legitimate purposes or settled through the Law Director’s Office.

Yet another audit had found numerous conflicts of interest in the mayor’s community grants program, run at the time by Finch. Cooper’s probe found that no member of the administration received kickbacks or other benefits from the grants Finch administered.

In the investigation of the mayor’s office, Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols recused himself because his office receives some county funding. The case was assigned to Bright.

On Aug. 11, Cooper took over the investigation but kept Bright involved. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation assisted.

In all, three attorneys and seven investigators, including a computer forensic technician specialist, were deployed in Cooper’s probe, which encompassed the review of more than 10,000 documents and interviews of 59 witnesses.

More details as they develop online and in Thursday’s News Sentinel.

2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.

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