2 employees of town near planned Ford truck plant indicted

Mar 22, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: 2:38 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Two employees of a rural Tennessee town that resisted a takeover attempt by the state after Ford Motor Co. announced plans to build an electric truck plant nearby have been charged with the theft of town funds and official misconduct, officials said Wednesday.

Reva Marshall, the former finance officer for the town of Mason, and Michele Scott, Mason’s human resources manager, have been indicted by grand juries in two counties, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office said in a news release and an investigative report.

Both Marshall and Scott were charged with receiving tens of thousands of dollars in improper wages, benefits and reimbursements from Mason by submitting timesheets for many more hours than they actually worked, officials said. They also worked full-time for the Memphis-Shelby County Schools system while also employed by Mason, receiving compensation from both entities for the same hours of work, officials said.

In a report released Wednesday, investigators also questioned tens of thousands of dollars in credit card transactions and reimbursements by town employees.

Marshall and Scott were indicted in west Tennessee’s Tipton County, where Mason is located, and in Shelby County, which includes Memphis. Online court records did not show if they had lawyers to speak on their behalf about the charges.

Mason’s mayor did not immediately respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.

The allegations are the latest in a string of financial problems that have beset Mason, located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northeast of Memphis. The state comptroller’s office said the town has experienced 20 years of financial mismanagement.

The 2020 Census shows Mason’s population at about 1,330. But that fell to less than 800 after a private prison closed.

The town’s current leadership is mostly Black, but white leaders were in charge for many of the years that the state said Mason’s affairs were mismanaged. The town has seen investigations into misconduct and accounting irregularities, including one by the comptroller’s office cited in a report in 2016, when its leaders were mostly white. Several officials resigned.

Last year, Tennessee Comptroller Jason Mumpower asked Mason’s town leaders to surrender their charter, pointing to the financial mismanagement. After Mason voters refused to do so, Mumpower later said the state would take over its financial supervision.

The news of the takeover attempt sparked national attention as many questioned its timing because Mason is near the site of a future $5.6 billion Ford electric pickup truck factory. The plant is expected to employ about 5,600 workers at the plant, and construction will create thousands more jobs.

Town leaders filed a lawsuit — with the help of the NAACP — hoping to stop a full takeover of its finances. Mason and the state later struck a deal for a scaled-back supervision of the town’s finances.

“The Comptroller’s Office continues to have enhanced supervision over the Town of Mason’s fiscal condition,” the news release said. “This includes ensuring the town maintains a balanced budget; requiring the town to provide monthly financial records and reports to the Comptroller’s Office; and requiring implementation of policies to address audit findings.”

Construction has begun for the planned Ford factory in neighboring Haywood County. Officials say the plant, called BlueOval City, will boost west Tennessee’s economy. The factory is expected to bring both small and large businesses to the area, including hotels, restaurants, health care facilities and suppliers for the plant, among others. Real estate values also could increase.

Ford has said it has not been directly involved with Mason’s financial situation, but it has reached out to state and local community leaders about it.

National News

FILE - A house burns on Platina Road at the Zogg Fire near Ono, Calif., on Sept. 27, 2020. A Northe...

Associated Press

California judge dismisses criminal charges against PG&E in 2020 fatal fire

REDDING, Calif. (AP) — A California judge on Wednesday dismissed all charges against Pacific Gas & Electric in connection to a 2020 fatal wildfire sparked by its equipment that destroyed hundreds of homes and killed four people, including an 8-year-old child. The utility also reached a $50 million settlement agreement with the Shasta County District […]

18 hours ago

This booking image provided by Adams County, Illl., administration, shows Timothy Bliefnick of Quin...

Associated Press

Former ‘Family Feud’ contestant Timothy Bliefnick guilty in wife’s slaying

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — A jury Wednesday convicted a former contestant on the television game show “Family Feud” of first-degree murder and home invasion in the slaying of his estranged wife in western Illinois. Timothy Bliefnick, 40, was found guilty in the Feb. 23 shooting death of Rebecca Bliefnick. The Adams County Circuit Court jury […]

18 hours ago

FILE - The Utah Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. Attorneys representing adult ...

Associated Press

Adult filmmakers ask judge to delay Utah law requiring porn sites verify user ages

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Attorneys representing adult entertainers, erotica authors and sex educators on Wednesday asked a judge to put on hold a Utah law requiring porn and other adult websites verify user ages. The Free Speech Coalition and its co-plaintiffs argued the new state law violates their clients’ First Amendment rights and intrudes […]

18 hours ago

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, center, jokes around with forwards Vlatko Cancar, left, and Jef...

Associated Press

Betting interest expected to be down with NBA, NHL finals lacking marquee matchups

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NBA Finals could’ve featured glamour teams like the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, and conventional thinking before the NHL playoffs stated the dominant Boston Bruins and star-studded Edmonton Oilers were on a near-collision course to meet in the Stanley Cup Final. All four teams are out, and what could’ve […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

Federal Reserve likely to skip interest rate hike at next meeting in June, officials signal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Leading Federal Reserve officials are sending out stronger signals that they will forego an interest rate increase at the central bank’s next meeting in June, though they indicate hikes could resume later this year. “Skipping a rate hike at a coming meeting would allow (Fed policymakers) to see more data before making […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona governor urging Biden to designate tribally proposed monument at Grand Canyon

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs is urging President Joe Biden to use the Antiquities Act to designate the tribally proposed Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. In a letter dated Tuesday, Hobbs told Biden that she is committed to preserving cultural and natural treasures throughout Arizona and said the Grand Canyon […]

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

2 employees of town near planned Ford truck plant indicted