Chumley pleads guilty to circuit court thefts

Published 12:36 pm Saturday, September 30, 2023

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The former Claiborne Circuit Court employee who misappropriated over a half-million in office funds pleaded guilty on Friday.

Lesley Adaline Chumley, 50, of Harrogate admitted to the three original charges leveled at her upon indictment. She pleaded to one count each of theft over $250,000 (a class A felony), official misconduct and tampering with governmental records.

Criminal Court Judge Zachary R. Walden sentenced Chumley to 15 years in prison for her wrongdoing.

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It was learned during the extensive investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury that Chumley had absconded with $618,404 in office funds. The thefts occurred from 2015 through 2022. She was employed as the Deputy Clerk for the Claiborne Circuit Court Clerk’s Office at the time.

The investigation states that Chumley abused her position as the office bookkeeper by stealing cash from the end of day collections, concealing the theft by altering bank statements to match the general ledger.

This was a sophisticated act of concealment that evaded auditors, according to the Tennessee Comptroller, who added the investigation yielded no evidence that anyone else had been involved.

Chumley reportedly admitted to investigators that no one was aware of her longstanding thefts.

Jared Effler, District Attorney General for the 8th Judicial District, spoke of the case.

“While it is extremely disappointing that the defendant abused her position of trust to divert public funds, I am pleased that she will be serving a lengthy sentence in the Tennessee prison system as a consequence of her actions. This lengthy prison sentence would not have been possible without the exemplary work of the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office. Their dogged determination and thoroughness uncovered the defendant’s untoward actions and saw this matter to a successful prosecution,” said Effler.

Tennessee Comptroller Jason Mumpower said he is pleased to see the successful conclusion of the case.

“I appreciate the hard work of our investigators and auditors who first uncovered this substantial theft. I’m also grateful to General Effler and his team for not only securing a guilty plea but also arranging for restitution payment to Claiborne County,” said Mumpower.

This case was handled by Senior Investigator Michael Jarreau of the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office and prosecuted by Attorney General Effler and Graham E. Wilson, Assistant District Attorney General.