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Update: Comptroller reports frivolous spending by former 911 director, felony theft

Rain Smith • Updated Nov 19, 2018 at 3:36 PM

Update, 3:30 p.m. — 

BLOUNTVILLE — Two weeks after his arrest for allegedly filing false police reports, Sullivan County's former 911 director is now accused of fraudulently obtaining $16,000 through a life insurance policy and also has been admonished for frivolous spending at the department.

Isaac "Ike" Lowry, 72, was arrested Monday and booked into the Sullivan Count jail. Last week, a Sullivan County grand jury returned a true bill against him on a charge of theft over $10,000 but less than $60,000.

According to the presentment, the offense occurred last summer. Lowry is alleged to have unlawfully obtained a life insurance policy through the Sullivan County Emergency Management Communication District.

The Tennessee Comptrollers' Office says the whole life policy had been paid for with Sullivan County Emergency Communications District funds — and was not approved by the board. Lowry is alleged to have later redeemed the policy to obtain $16,856, and he reportedly told investigators that he placed the money into an investment for himself.

Additional allegations

Lowry, of Bluff City, retired as Sullivan County 911 director in June of last year, where he had worked since its inception in the late 1980s. Information released by the Comptrollers' Office shows that though the life insurance incident was the only alleged misdeed to net charges, Lowry had apparently inflated hours and misspent Emergency District funds for several years.

* As of October 2017, vacation and sick time for Lowry and three employees was reportedly inflated by about 6,500 hours, or the equivalent of 811 days.

* From 2011 through 2015, at least $104,000 in assorted items were purchased for "public education." The 911-branded pens, rulers, cell phone pockets and hand sanitizer were later found in a storeroom, as they had never been distributed.

* District funds were used to purchase china table settings, silverware, glassware, tablecloths, Christmas decorations and at least six vacuum cleaners.

* In 2011, Lowry allegedly purchased a dishwasher and refrigerator from an employee, spending $2,450 in district funds. Seven years later, the machinery had never been plugged in. According to the Comptrollers' Office, this, "created the appearance that the purchase was not necessary for the operation of the district, but rather was an accommodation to the employee."

* In 2014 and 2015, Lowry allegedly spent more than $1,000 in district funds to buy holiday turkeys and hams for employees, board members and dispatchers. Such actions were prohibited by the board and the practice was terminated.

* The district provided meals at board meetings for board members and employees, costing between $200 to $400 per meeting. Meals purchased often numbered 20, though the board had only nine members. The district also provided special holiday meals during the November or December board meeting. The attendees for these meals included not only the board members and employees, but spouses and other invited guests, and costs exceeded $500 in some cases.

* Lowry is alleged to have charged meals at area restaurants once or twice a month, but failed to document how doing so benefited the district. Over a period of 22 months that ended in March of 2015, Lowry reportedly charged more than $2,100 on meals.

The Comptrollers Office says that Sullivan County Emergency District officials have since corrected all of the issues.

Previous charges

Monday's arrest marks Lowry's second in just less than two weeks. On Nov. 8, he turned himself in on warrants for false reporting and theft over $10,000.

Those charges came about following a probe by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. It was launched after Lowry told the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office that a woman — identified by the TBI as a “female acquaintance” — had stolen his debit card, then unlawfully withdrawn thousands of dollars from his account.

In a report filed at the SCSO, Lowry accused the female of taking more than $6,000 from his checking account and more than $8,000 from his savings. She was subsequently arrested and charged with 61 counts of identity theft and felony theft over $10,000.

According to SCSO Capt. Andy Seabolt, statements from the female and further investigation revealed that Lowry had given her permission to use the card. Her criminal charges were later expunged.

At the request of Sullivan County District Attorney Gen. Barry Staubus, the TBI was called in to investigate Lowry’s alleged false reporting. The case against him was presented to a Sullivan County grand jury in October, netting his first indictment.

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Previous story:

BLOUNTVILLE — Two weeks after his arrest for allegedly filing false police reports, Sullivan County's former 911 director is now accused of fraudulently obtaining a life insurance policy through the department he headed.

Isaac "Ike" Lowry, 72, was arrested Monday and booked into the Sullivan Count jail. Last week, a Sullivan County grand jury returned a true bill against him on a charge of theft over $10,000 but less than $60,000.

According to the presentment, the offense occurred last summer. Lowry is alleged to have unlawfully obtained a life insurance policy through the Sullivan County Emergency Management Communication District, doing so without permission.

Lowry later obtained more than $10,000 through the policy, netting the Class C felony theft charge. Lowry, of Bluff City, retired as Sullivan County 911 director in June of last year, where he had worked since its inception in the late 1980s.

Monday's arrest marks Lowry's second in just less than two weeks. On Nov. 8, he turned himself in on warrants for false reporting and theft over $10,000.

Those charges came about following a probe by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. It was launched after Lowry told the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office that a woman — identified by the TBI as a “female acquaintance” — had stolen his debit card, then unlawfully withdrawn thousands of dollars from his account.

In a report filed at the SCSO, Lowry accused the female of taking more than $6,000 from his checking account and more than $8,000 from his savings. She was subsequently arrested and charged with 61 counts of identity theft and felony theft over $10,000.

According to SCSO Capt. Andy Seabolt, statements from the female and further investigation revealed that Lowry had given her permission to use the card. Her criminal charges were later expunged.

At the request of Sullivan County District Attorney Gen. Barry Staubus, the TBI was called in to investigate Lowry’s alleged false reporting. The case against him was presented to a Sullivan County grand jury in October, netting his first indictment.

Details on Lowry's latest arrest are expected to be released later today. Check back with TimesNews.net for details when they become available.

 

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