By Meg Dickens
The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office recently released an investigation report on “allegations of malfeasance related to A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition.” On Monday, January 11, the Johnson County Grand Jury indicted former A.C.T.I.O.N. Executive Director Angela Dickens on one count of Theft of Property over $2,500 in violation of Tennessee Code §39-14-103, a Class D felony.
Officials focused on three main points of spending in this investigation: misappropriated funds, misuse of company credit cards, and questionable purchases. The inquiry spans from July 1, 2014, through August 14, 2018.
According to the Comptroller’s Office, Dickens misappropriated “at least $3,674” for personal use. The majority of these funds, equaling $3,462, went towards cell phone plans and related equipment from Verizon. She spent “at least $212” in personal groceries from a local grocery store.
The investigation report shows that Dickens spent “at least $14,046” on the company credit card for personal purchases. Many of these charges were from Paparazzi LLC, a jewelry company sold by consultants, of which locals say Dickens was one. While she reportedly paid back these charges, she incurred finance charges and late fees that officials cannot confirm she paid.
“Several A.C.T.I.O.N board members told investigators they were not aware that Dickens made personal use of the organization credit cards,” Comptroller Jason Mumpower revealed in his report.
Dickens reportedly made $17,200 in questionable purchases. She did not supply itemized receipts or detail for the charges in some instances, so officials could not confirm whether these charges were for organization use. Some of these charges include food, travel, and supplies.
The investigation showed a few places where A.C.T.I.O.N. could improve and prevent this problem in the future. The Comptroller’s main complaints were that A.C.T.I.O.N. did not have “adequate documentation.” Missing or lacking documents include unsigned reimbursement claims and inadequately documented purchases, as well as a lack of leave records, credit card use policies, and a written agreement securing Safe Haven’s position as its fiscal agent.
Reportedly, A.C.T.I.O.N’s Board of Directors assured the Comptroller’s office that these issues have either already been solved or were in the process at the time of the investigation. In July 2018, A.C.T.I.O.N. restructured with a new board of directors and new Executive Director Trish Burchette.
“We would like the community to understand these unfortunate events are in no way a reflection of the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, its current director, any current employees, or its board members,” Burchette assured the public. “Our door is always open to anyone in the community who needs help or seeks assistance for a friend, family member, or loved one. We encourage our community members to reach out and learn as much about the work of A.C.T.I.O.N. as possible, get involved, volunteer as we work toward Uniting our community toward a healthy, happy drug- free Johnson County.”
A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition is a nonprofit organization focused on educating, empowering, and engaging the community as a whole, focusing on substance abuse and recovery resources. Find out more about A.C.T.I.O.N. at its website or (423) 727-0780.