#287 Mar 7, 2012
By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- NewsChannel 5 has learned that investigators from at least two federal agencies are now taking an interest in the scandal involving the Upper Cumberland Development District.
In addition, the woman at the center of that controversy has now hired a lawyer.
All of this comes as a new state report confirms many of the findings of a NewsChannel 5 investigation into the agency that's supposed to create jobs and help the poor in 14 Middle Tennessee counties.
The latest interest in the UCDD scandal comes from the inspector general for the U.S. Economic Development Administration which plans to send investigators to Cookeville to determine if any of its money was misused. That agency provides much of the federal funding to UCDD for economic development.
In addition, the federal Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) says it's also working with state auditors, who returned in force this week to UCDD's offices.
"Our inspector general is coordinating with state investigators to ensure that any ARC funding has not been used in any illegal way, with respect to this project," a spokesperson told NewsChannel 5 Investigates. "So far, we have no indication that there's been any money used as part of this project."
While it's not clear exactly what pot of money was used for that million-dollar Living the Dream house in rural Putnam County, investigators are questioning how UCDD executive director Wendy Askins managed to transfer $300,000 -- and perhaps much more -- to her pet project.
A new report from the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability says that "no supporting documentation could be found to justify the payment."
It also questions $33,000 in payments to Askins herself -- many of those highlighted in our NewsChannel 5 investigation.
In addition, the report notes that UCDD solicited bids for the exact type of vehicle owned by the executive director of its Area Agency on Aging and Disability -- and that person then offered up a bid.
Then, "the UCDD accepted that bid, bought the vehicle and then provided it to (her) to use for agency purposes."
On top of that, noted criminal defense attorney Jack Lowery out of Lebanon confirms that Ms. Askins has hired him to help her deal with the questions arising out of the UCDD controversy, although he insists that was before there was any confirmation that there might indeed be a criminal investigation.
A lawyer hired by the UCDD board is expected to wrap up his internal investigation within the next three weeks.
#288 Mar 8, 2012
OMG - Grand Jury Reports and your old friend GL...
#289 Mar 8, 2012
The Feds are now investigating. This scandal has moved to a much higher level.
Mike Foster, John Pelham, and Kim Blaylock may have been able to induce UCDD employees to hide and destroy records in the past.
Now with the Feds involved, destroying and hiding records becomes a FEDERAL OFFENSE.
Conviction on Federal charges means the person convicted serves their prison sentence day-for-day.
In other words, if you are sentenced to 60months in prison, you serve 60 months in prison. No time off for good behavior, no parole, you just sit in jail and do your time. 60 months is 5 years.
Wendy Askins and Larry Webb have been set up to take the fall for the UCDD Board of Directors.
But that was when Mike Foster and John Pelham hoped they could control the investigation through their privately hired attorneys.
Wendy and Larry would be sent home with their tails tucked between their legs. The deal would be over with the UCDD investigation.
Traveling to Anchorage, Alaska and New Orleans, Louisiana is not illegal unless you use FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS.
Imagine poor little Wendy Askins cutting a deal with a FEDERAL Prosecutor.
Please, please Mr. US Attorney. PLEASE! Ill be a good girl. I promise!!
And if you will agree to only make me serve 120 months (10 YEARS) in Federal Prison, instead of 240 months (20 Years), Ill, Ill be really good!!!
AND Ill rat out 5 current County Executives, 2 Currant City Mayors, 2 Tennessee State representatives, 1 State Senator and a former United States Congressman.
#290 Mar 9, 2012
Two things i am confused about. PW mentions federal investigations ARC and the US economic administration. These agencies don't tend towards prosecution do they? It would be much more intense if it was the IRS. I am assuming PW is speaking of ARC and US Economic Administration when he says feds are investigating.
Aren't Federal prisons pretty easy any way? White collar criminals?
Finally I hope Lowery should be getting his money up front since this chick can't seem to hold on to a dime. Of course now I guess she be dropping the dime, on someone else of course!
#291 Mar 9, 2012
I'll bet you could hear the dimes dropping, if you stood outside her attorneys office !! Can't blame her, they're throwing her out with the dishwater like all good ol boys do. She should've known better than to get mixed up with that bunch of clowns. Guess feminine charm only goes so far when the feds are breathing down your neck !!!
#292 Mar 9, 2012
All those federal agencies have an office of the inspector general. The inspector general performs audits and looks for wrong doing involving that agency's monies.
The inspector general than turns their finding over to the appropriate law enforcement agency or to the US Attorney's Office for prosecution.
Rest assured, numerous federal law enforcement agencies, IRS, FBI, etc will be looking at the case and all the players. The Feds never get in a hurry and they will sift through every piece of evidence.
If Wendy, Larry and the board of directors haven't done anything wrong, they have nothing to fear. If they have?
One thought, really guilty people hire Jack Lowrey and Jack Lowery is very good at cutting deals. If a deal gets cut, others will go down.
#293 Mar 12, 2012
Bumping this up so they know we're still paying attention !!!
#294 Mar 14, 2012
I beg your pardon rotton apples. You need to get your facts straight. 17 years ago UCDD had no money and no projects. Have you seen the recent audit? 1.7 million in discretionary money. 50-60 million in projects. Have you looked at her past evaluations? 16 perfect. You people don't have a clue what your talking about.
talk facts not trash!
#295 Mar 14, 2012
I am sorry I must disagree! really smart people hire Lowery to protect them for taking all the blame for no policies being in place.
wendy everybody knows all she has done for the upper cumberlands and she is the brains behind that agency. I live in cookeville and aleady see it falling apart. sad
#296 Mar 14, 2012
the saddest part of all this is wendy admits some poor judgement and the board members are denying that they knew anything.
what a joke!
she is not a politician and that will hurt her. In a protecting mode and that is not good. If she ever turn loose of all she knows heads will sure turn. It will be interesting!
#297 Mar 14, 2012
board members went to
alaska and some took spouces.
but listen think what you may but this woman worked for these people and in the political world no does not mean no!
been keeping up with all of this and hope like h=== she starts talking.
#298 Mar 14, 2012
heard her and other UCDD employees already cooperating very well w/ authorities. not good to be certain board members.
#299 Mar 15, 2012
Well you may be right. If you say 17 years ago there was no money, and no projects then it sounds like someone started this agency from the ground up with nothing. But that would be contrary to what the UCDD web page states in that it was established in 1968. Unless there are two UCDD entities? The amount of money that passes through the agency means nothing. If it was $15. and someone used $3. to buy a ham sandwich for a buddy, that would be stealing. And that is the problem. BTW it is against the law. Or if they used $3,000 for a trip to Alaska, that was intended to go to the 14 counties they serve, well that would also be stealing. If the money does not go where it is suppose to go it is stealing. And it is some of the worst there is in that the money could be diverted to poor people, food, wheel chair ramps, roofs rebuilt, insulation, relative care giver programs, job training, and others. Then there is the matter of a gazebo, and the furniture that Wendy sold to LTD from her own home. These are just a few items that come to the top of my head, oh and should I even bother to mention the $300,000 that magically appeared for the LTD project that came out of the UCDD funds. Maybe you are amazed at the dollar signs and that has people confused thinking that amount of money everything must be grand. But as the truth starts coming out that amount of funds only leads to more chances for greed and cooruption. There is no telling what happened with the audit reports. Are these the same audit reports that Kim Blaylock is currently writing a letter about? The board members and audit reports were two stop gap measures that are used to prevent stealing. These measures failed. The primary reason they failed is that (take your pick of words here) con-men, hustlers, con-artists, swindlers, liars and theives saw an opportunity. And they jumped.
#300 Mar 15, 2012
Couldn't have said it better!!! A thief is a thief. How in the world can someone try to justify what was done here...HAD TO BEEN POSTED BY SOMEONE INVOLVED. Best thing they can do now is get on their knees, ask for forgiveness, take the consequences of their actions and try to be a better person in the future.
#301 Mar 15, 2012
FYI Kim Galock may be writing letter, however, did you know that she served on the finance committee every year she has been in office. She is trying to save her own ass and get the job. Proactive! uuuh A little late I think
#302 Mar 15, 2012
I agree...great post !!!
Wendy may have had 16 straight perfect performance evaluations, but who did the evaluating? The board members ? If so they'd be cutting off their nose to spite their face if they gave her less than perfect. They were using her like a rented mule. UCDD was a free ticket for all involved. What a bunch of clowns.
#303 Mar 15, 2012
And apparntly Wendy nver said no, even when Mike Foster said YES.
#304 Mar 15, 2012
Mike Foster says he didnt know anything about the UCDD scandal even though he has been a board member for years and is the current chairman of the board of directors.
Then Mike Foster says he has been appointed to the board that will investigate Wendy Askins and Larry Webb the people who did all these scandalous things that Foster says he didnt know about.
Since Mike Foster is chairman of the board of directors of UCDD who appointed Mike Foster to the board responsible for investigating the UCDD scandal?
And if Mike Foster was chairman of the board of directors of UCDD when the scandal went on, which Mike Foster says he didnt know anything about how can Mike Foster properly investigate the things that went on right under his nose?
#305 Mar 15, 2012
Mike the magic Foster lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist
At place called LTD
Little Wendy Askins loved that rascal Mike
And bought him airplane tickets and played him like a tyke
#306 Mar 16, 2012
Are we really going to talk about mistresses for Dekalb Co residents? ALOT of couples in Dekalb Co have cheated on each other at some point in time but it only makes news when it is a polictican?? What about all our Prominent couples who are part of the Swingers Club in Smihville,(doctors, dentist, lawyers, business owners)??? Morals in this World and in Dekalb Co. have declined drastically.
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