Just before his trial was to start Monday in Kingston, Tennessee, a former accountant with Volunteer Energy Cooperative entered a guilty plea to a charge of theft over $250,000, stemming from an investigation from 2018. Jason Timothy Kittle, age 46, was originally booked into the Meigs County Jail when he was accused in the investigation of stealing almost $1 million from the cooperative — a nonprofit utility that serves all or parts of 17 Tennessee counties, according to state officials.
Investigators determined that Kittle stole at least $994,981 between June 2011 and December 2017. Kittle used three schemes to steal VEC money for his personal use.
· Kittle stole $735,318 by making 242 transfers from a VEC account to his personal bank account.
· Kittle stole $229,293 by making 204 payments to his personal credit card account.
· Kittle stole $30,368 by making 48 payments to a credit card account in the name of a family member.
Kittle was able to conceal his misappropriation by recording fraudulent transactions in VEC’s accounting system as online payment fees, returns, or similar transactions. Kittle also managed and reconciled the statements of the VEC bank account, which allowed the theft to remain undetected for years.
Kittle admitted to VEC officials that payments were made to his personal credit card account from the VEC bank account. His employment was terminated on January 2, 2018.
He will appear in front of Circuit Court Judge Michael Pemberton on January 11, 2023, for sentencing. It’s expected that he will receive a sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison with no probation allowed.
The sentencing hearing is set for Roane County.
Customers have not been impacted by this, as VEC is fully insured.