The Tennessee Comptroller Office released a statement last week alleging a California woman was stealing money from a Tennessee Library.  The state’s comptroller’s audit determined that Shekinah Edwards stole $32,366.89 from the Elma Ross Public Library in Haywood County by issuing fraudulent checks addressed to herself. The allegations were referred to a Haywood County Grand Jury, who returned an indictment in November against Edwards of one count of theft of over $10,000.

From May 22, 2020, through July 10, 2020, the Comptroller’s office alleges, Edwards issued herself 14 checks with the forged signatures of the library officials. The fraudulent checks were discovered in July 2020, when the library director was reconciling the library’s bank account and realized the font on the checks was not the same as the checks routinely issued by the library.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and members of the Brownsville Police who worked on the case determined Edwards had used the library’s banking information, but after interviewing staff and members of the board were unable to confirm how she had accessed the information. Investigators said that Edwards had no connections to any of the staff, and had never been employed at the location.

The Tennessee Comptroller’s office said that the library’s director failed to conduct her job properly. The official Report found that the director had only reconciled the library’s bank account twice during March and April of 2020. The director was able to discover the fraud while she was preparing the library’s financials to present to the board members, but did not go to the police until September of 2020.

When police asked the director why she waited to submit the report, she claimed that she was waiting for a report from the bank. She then admitted that she had not spoken with the bank since her initial report in July 2020, and said she “dropped the ball.”

“The library board should take steps to improve oversight by insisting on monthly bank account reconciliations and separating financial responsibilities between more than one person,” said Comptroller Jason Mumpower. “The board must also ensure a timely annual audit of the library’s accounts is performed. I’m pleased to note that library officials have corrected or will correct these problems.”

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Morgan Nicole Veysey is a reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow her on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Elma Ross Public Library” by Elma Ross Public Library.