City of Kingston Comments on ‘Questionable Transactions’ After Comptrollers Report

Rick Ross, Former Parks and Recreation Director for City of Kingston

Late on the afternoon of January 3rd, 2019, then Finance Director Carolyn Brewer discovered three old checking accounts that had previously not been linked to our online banking.  All three were associated with the Parks and Recreation Department.

Upon initial review, Director Brewer noticed several questionable transactions involving then Parks and Rec. Director Rick Ross.  Among them were checks that he had made out to himself and Kingston Parks and Rec., signed himself and cashed.  There were also dozens of checks written with only his signature, reimbursements made with no supporting documentation, purchases made with no requisitions or purchase orders and money incorrectly deposited.

Director Brewer immediately called me to her office and we agreed that we needed to bring this to the attention of our auditors to get their opinion on what we had found.  After looking at these accounts, our auditors stated that supporting documentation for these charges needed to be produced, and instructed me to meet with Ross first thing the next morning for that purpose.

The next morning (Friday, the 4th), Director Brewer, Police Chief Washam and I met with Ross in my office and told him that we had discovered these accounts the afternoon prior, found several things we needed more information on, and told him to go to his office and bring back all bank statements, canceled checks, receipts, etc. that were in his possession.  Chief Washam escorted him to his office and, approximately 20 minutes later, he returned with three file folders of paperwork.  We took possession of them and Ross left the building. 

The three of us (Brewer, Washam and I) began looking through the material that he produced and immediately recognized that it had no relevance to the accounts in question.  Late that afternoon, our auditor returned, looked over the material and agreed that we had no choice but to report this to the Comptroller’s Office for further review. 

Monday morning (the 7th), I spoke with Christy Tennant (Chief Investigator for the East TN region) and she indicated that she would be assigning two Investigators to the case.  They arrived on Wednesday morning and met with Brewer, Washam and I to go over the situation and take custody of what records we had.  After spending a couple of hours reviewing the material, they asked me to take them to the Community Center.  Ross had called in sick that morning, but had indicated that he would be coming in midday.  They spoke with members of the Parks and Recreation staff, and indicated that they were leaving for lunch and would return to meet with Ross later that afternoon.  I left the Community Center at that time and, later in the day, learned that they spent about 2.5 hours interviewing him. 

The next day (Thursday the 10th) Ross emailed me first thing in the morning stating that he wouldn’t be in.  I had no further contact with him that day. 

On Friday, at approximately 1:00, Chief Washam sent me a text stating that Ross would like to meet with me in my office.  After some discussion, Ross submitted his resignation. 

I want to be crystal clear that these questionable charges did not occur because of deficiencies in our internal controls.  They happened because the City was unaware of the existence of the checking accounts that the former Director was in sole possession of and utilizing to make those questionable purchases.” 

We had at that time, and continue to have, purchasing policies in place that all departments follow (submittal of requisitions, approval of purchase orders, etc.).  Because former Director Ross had access to funds that we didn’t know about, and therefore had no ability to control, he was able to use those funds at his own discretion and completely avoid the established processes.” said David Bolling, City of Kingston Manager.

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

Check Also

The Kingston Police Department Joins Statewide “Click It or Ticket” Campaign

As summer begins and families set out on vacations, the Kingston Police Department is teaming …

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.