Heck serving confinement as judge signs sentencing docs

Published 2:04 pm Thursday, June 22, 2023

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The former bookkeeper who stole a substantial chunk of change from the Claiborne County Clerk’s Office is currently serving her jail time to satisfy the confinement portion of her sentence.

Patricia Diane Heck was sentenced to a split-confinement of 45 days in jail and an effective 8 years TDOC supervised probation. Restitution to her victims is expected to be hammered out at a later date, according to Assistant District Attorney General Graham Wilson, who estimated the amount could be somewhere in the ballpark of $34,000. There were numerous victims in this case.

If Heck should violate her probation, the judge can order her to return to jail for a maximum of 6 years confinement, according to Daniel Barnett who explained the way in which the plea agreement is written.

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Heck pleaded guilty to siphoning off more than $25,400 from dealership fees during a three-year time span. According to the Tennessee Comptroller, Heck overcharged certain dealerships for fees remitted to the Clerk’s Office on behalf of their customers. Part of Heck’s job was to calculate the fees, which she falsely inflated, keeping the excess amounts for her personal benefit. She also, according to the Comptroller, altered the electronic and manual records to hide the misappropriated funds routinely using a white substance to conceal information on the registration documents.

This occurred from April 1 of 2016 through April 19, 2019, according to the Comptroller who led the investigation.

Once Heck realized she was under investigation, she chose to resign from her job as the chief deputy bookkeeper.

In an eerily similar case, another bookkeeper – this time in the Claiborne County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office – is facing a motion hearing on Aug. 14 following her indictment last year for an alleged misappropriation of funds.

An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office determined that Lesley Chumley confiscated at least $618,404 from May 2015 to February of 2022.

According to the Comptroller, Chumley failed to deposit collections remitted to her by other office staff. She allegedly manipulated bank deposits on at least four separate days, withholding $10,947 in cash for her personal use.

Chumley created false bank statements to make it appear the bank account balances were higher than they really were. She acknowledged to investigators that she had taken court collections, using the cash for “personal financial problems.”

Chumley voluntarily left the Clerk’s Office on April 8 of 2022 and was indicted by the Claiborne Grand Jury in June 2022. The indictment covered one count of theft over $250,000, one count of official misconduct and one count of destruction of and tampering with government records.