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Former Rogersville water chief set to plead in $339K theft case April 29

Jeff Bobo • Feb 12, 2020 at 8:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Rogersville Water Commission was notified last week that former water superintendent Shawn Everett Hatchett will plead guilty on April 29 in his 60-count theft and misconduct case.

Hatchett, 51, 109 Sycamore St., Rogersville, was indicted in April of 2018 on one count of theft over $250,000, one count of theft over $60,000, and one count of official misconduct stemming for alleged embezzlement from the Rogersville Water Department.

The following August, he was named in an additional 57-count Hawkins County grand jury indictment related to the alleged falsifying of water testing results with the Hawkins County School System.

The most serious count against Hatchett is theft over $250,000, which is a Class A felony punishable by 15-25.

Incarceration and restitution

The attorney general’s victim witness coordinator, April Allen, stated in her Feb. 4 letter to the water commission that the three counts related to water department thefts will be disposed of by court without trial — by guilty pleas tentatively set for April 29.

Third Judicial District Attorney General Dan Armstrong confirmed for the Times News Wednesday the entire 60 counts will be resolved with one plea.

Armstrong noted that he can’t discuss the terms of the plea agreement until after the plea hearing.

Armstrong did say, however, that incarceration and restitution are included in the plea agreement.

Alleged theft from the water department

Armstrong and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation became involved in the case in July of 2017 after Hatchett informed water commissioners that $69,444 in cash was missing from a bank bag that was in his vehicle. Hatchett reportedly told commissioners he intended to deposit the funds in the bank, but got sidetracked by a major leak and other ongoing projects.

According to a Tennessee Comptroller’s report released in April of 2018, Hatchett had actually diverted cash collections totaling at least $338,929 by withholding money from deposits he was entrusted to deliver to the bank.

Hatchett also allegedly acquired funds illegally by a combination of unauthorized overtime payments and a scam similar to check kiting, except with water department cash deposits. The alleged thefts allegedly dated back to 2015.

As a result of the alleged thefts by Hatchett, the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen dissolved the independent Rogersville Water Commission and transferred those duties to the BMA in order to maintain more oversight on the department.

Theft and forgery against the school system

A second round of 57 indictments against Hatchett in August of 2018 related to water testing in the county school system.

Hatchett is charged with theft over $60,000 from the school system for allegedly collecting pay for testing he didn’t perform, forgery over $60,000 for the false entries related to school wastewater testing, and 55 counts of violation of the Water Control Act.

The Discharge Monitoring Reports that were reportedly falsified were compiled between 2011 and 2017 and included Cherokee High School (14), Clinch School (13), Keplar Elementary (14), and Mooresburg Elementary (14).

Hatchett is currently free on a total of $325,000 bond from both cases.