A tiny church in East Tennessee is the victim of a $83,710.82 theft from two of the church's officers, according to the TBI and the state comptroller office.
Peakland Baptist Church, near Decatur, Tenn., has a congregation of four members. The church had hoped to rebuild following a fire in Feb. 18, 2019, but was unable due to lack of funds. The church's insurance had paid out $189,000 for the fire.
The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, working in conjunction with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and at the request of the District Attorney General of the 9th Judicial District, has completed an investigation resulting in the indictment of Carolyn Mullins and her son, William “Larry” Mullins.
Mullins, the church treasurer and assistant church treasurer, were the only authorized signatories on the church bank accounts.
Investigators revealed the Mullins stole most of the $83,710.82 by making internet transfers and withdrawals from the church bank accounts to their personal accounts. They also wrote church checks for cash to themselves, and they made personal purchases at Walmart for items such as gift cards, cigarettes, cash back, a ring, and clothing.
The Mullins’ did transfer $12,221.31 back to the church; however, a balance of $71,489.51 is still owed the church.
In July 2021, the Meigs County Grand Jury indicted William Larry Mullins on one count of theft over $60,000 and Carolyn Mullins on one count of theft over $60,000.
This is the second Comptroller’s Office investigation completed pursuant to Tenn. Code Annotated § 8-4-209, which was passed by the General Assembly in 2019 and allows the Comptroller’s Office to assist district attorneys general and the TBI in the investigation of private funds if the Comptroller deems the investigation to be in the public interest.
“It’s a best practice for churches to have someone other than treasurer reconcile the monthly bank statements and review financial activity,” said Comptroller Jason Mumpower. “Separating financial responsibilities reduces the risk of errors or fraudulent activity.”
If you suspect fraud, waste, or abuse of public money in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at 800.232.5454, or file a report online at: tncot.cc/fraud. Follow us on twitter @TNCOT and Instagram @tncot