The Tennessee State Comptroller’s office issued a report Friday morning after its investigation found former Wilson County Chief Judicial Commissioner Randy Hankins, who retired Aug. 25, received pay by falsely reporting at least 416 hours he did not work.
“Judicial commissioners are an organization that’s supposed to be neutral and detached from judges and law enforcement, so, sometimes, it kind of puts them on an island,” Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said. “After this situation happened, we felt it was necessary to add some oversight from our finance office.”
Judicial commissioners issue arrest and search warrants, approve bonds and set court appearance dates, administer protection orders and other tasks.
“As with any organization like this, there’s some leeway with directors as far as office hours and times. You assume everybody would do what they’re supposed to do, which I guess is what happened here. We felt it would be best to have another set of eyes on this than what was in the past,” Hutto said.
Hankins, who retired Aug. 25, was also working and getting paid for a job at a bowling alley while he claimed to be working at commissioner’s job.
According to a letter included with the report, the investigation was initiated after Wilson County officials reported suspected abuse of reported time worked. The investigation covered the period Jan. 1, 2018, through Oct. 6, 2018.
Video surveillance indicated he was present at the Judicial Commission Office, located adjacent to the Wilson County Criminal Justice Center in Lebanon, for only 96 of the 320 reported hours he reported during an eight-week period from July 15, 2018, through July 28, 2018, and Aug. 26, 2018, through Oct. 6, 2018.
Hankins was present on average approximately 3.5 hours each day he was on site at the Judicial Commission Office. Additionally, Hankins failed to use vacation or sick leave to account for the hours he was not present.
From Jan. 1, 2018, through July 14, 2018, and from July 29, 2018, through Aug. 25, 2018, Hankins was paid at least $11,393.89 by falsely reporting at least 416 hours he did not work. Based on the Judicial Commission Office keyless access records, Hankins failed to show up for work at all for at least 52 days during this 160-day period.
Based on Wilson County’s employee policy, Hankins should have deducted a full day (eight hours of leave) for each absence. However, on these 52 days, Hankins failed to use leave of any kind.
The investigation revealed that on occasion, Hankins worked at a local bowling alley during his shift at the Judicial Commission Office. While the Judicial Commission Office is open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, and Hankins had the ability to work different shifts, he told investigators that he typically came in for his shift at the Judicial Commission Office around 5:15 a.m., Monday through Friday.
He further stated he did not work weekend shifts at the Judicial Commission Office because he had a second job on the weekends at a local bowling alley.
According to bowling alley time records from Jan. 1, 2018, through Oct. 6, 2018, Hankins worked at the local bowling alley over 80 hours on Monday through Friday, overlapping the shift he would have been working at the Judicial Commission Office.
According to video surveillance from July 15, 2018, through July 28, 2018, Hankins was present for only 18 hours at the Judicial Commission Office. However, he reported time worked and was paid his full salary as though he had worked 80 hours.
During this same two-week period, Hankins recorded and was paid for working at the local bowling alley for 77 hours. Hankins failed to use leave for the 62 hours he did not work at the Judicial Commission Office while working at the local bowling alley.
Hankins admitted to investigators that he forgot to use leave for a week in May 2018 while he was working at the bowling alley. He made no mention of the additional days in July or other months in which he did not use leave while working at the bowling alley during his typical commissioner shift.
Hankins admitted to investigators that during the period from August 2018 through October 2018, he was absent “noticeable hours” from his normal scheduled hours at the Judicial Commission Office to take care of family obligations.
Hankins also stated to investigators that there were times when he would leave the office to run personal errands for an hour or two. Initially, Hankins told investigators that most of his work was done in the office, but he later stated that he would do some of his work outside of the office, such as approving the staff schedule and answering questions over the phone. Investigators were unable to determine what judicial commissioner work, if any, Hankins was conducting off-site.
Hankins submitted his retirement with Wilson County effective Aug. 25, 2020. Upon retirement, Hankins forfeited 380 hours of vacation leave and 2,688 hours of sick leave valued at $86,569.
The investigation points out problems with internal controls that contributed to the ability of Hankins to falsely report his time worked. Those include providing proper oversight by Wilson County officials to confirm the accuracy of time sheets of Hankins and other judicial commissioners.
According to the report, Wilson County officials have corrected or plan to correct the administrative issues.
The results of the investigation were sent to the District Attorney General of the 15th Judicial District.