Former Scott County Volunteer Fire Chief Indicted for Theft

Austin Lewallen led the Paint Rock Volunteer Fire Department

An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has resulted in the indictment of Austin Lewallen, the former chief of the Paint Rock Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) in Scott County.

Comptroller investigators began their review of the department after Scott County officials reported concerns of questionable financial activity within the VFD.

Investigators determined that former fire chief Austin Lewallen stole Paint Rock VFD funds totaling at least $13,716.71 between May 2022 and January 2023. Lewallen stole most of the money by making over-the-counter bank withdrawals and unauthorized ATM cash withdrawals. He also used the VFD’s debit card to make personal purchases and paid a utility bill with Paint Rock VFD funds.

The investigation revealed an additional $4,700 in questionable cash withdrawals that were not supported with receipts to indicate whether or not the cash was used to benefit the VFD.

Austin Lewallen was removed as fire chief on March 27, 2023. Based upon this investigation, he was indicted by the Scott County Grand Jury in November 2023 on one count of theft of property over $10,000 and one count of fraudulent use of a debit card.

“During the time this theft occurred, Paint Rock VFD did not have an active board of directors,” said Comptroller Mumpower. “Once Lewallen was removed as fire chief, a board of directors was formed. I encourage the board to establish firm internal controls to ensure money is properly handled and all disbursements are properly documented.”

To view the investigative report, go to tncot.cc/doireports

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.

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