The former manager of the Sneedville Utility District was arrested Thursday and charged with theft over $1,000 for allegedly converting approximately $8,000 in utility funds to her own use, authorities say.
Connie Davis Mitchell was named in a sealed indictment handed down by a Hancock County grand jury on Monday, according to Teddy Collingsworth, a criminal investigator with the district attorney general’s office.
There does not appear to be any doubt about whether Mitchell, who is around 40 years old, stole the money. The criminal investigator said this morning she has already made restitution.
Collingsworth says Mitchell stole money from the cash box, and covered the debt with worthless checks.
Mitchell does not have a criminal history that would prevent her from getting a pretrial diversion, but Criminal Court Judge John F. Dugger Jr. refused to grant a diversion from a Hawkins County man who stole money from a public utility there.
The former utility manager was sacked in December 2011 after a state audit revealed that money was missing. Mitchell’s father, Ralph Davis, is a long-time member of the Sneedville Utility District board.
The board declined to conduct an audit, which was ultimately performed at the insistence of the DA’s office, District Attorney General C. Berkeley Bell said in March 2012.
“The audit was done involuntarily,” Bell said. “It was an unannounced audit that was ultimately performed … They hadn’t done it.”
Sandra Columber was named SUD manager after Mitchell was fired. She said her officer “cooperated fully” with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation audit.
TBI Agent Chris Wilhoit presented the evidence to a grand jury on Monday.
Mitchell was released from the Hancock County Jail on Thursday after posting a $20,000 bond.
-By Robert Moore, Tribune Staff Writer