Ex-Rogersville water chief faces 57 new charges related to falsified school water tests

Jeff Bobo • Aug 22, 2018 at 12:45 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The former Rogersville water superintendent accused of stealing at least $338,929 from the water department over the course of about three years is now facing 57 new charges of theft and misconduct related to allegedly falsified school wastewater treatment plant testing.

On Monday, Shawn Everette Hatchett was named in a 57 count Hawkins County grand jury indictment. He’s charged with theft over $60,000 from the school system for 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).

Third Judicial District Attorney General Dan Armstrong told the Times News that Hatchett received approximately $800 per month total to perform monthly testing at all four schools.

Hatchett was contracted as a certified operator for the Hawkins County Board of Education and fraudulently claimed and received $64,800 in fees between April 8, 2011 and December 12, 2017, authorities say.

Investigators found that Hatchett did not perform the work he was paid to do.

“The theft charges relate to the money he charged the school to complete and file the testing that is alleged to not have been completed,” Armstrong said. “The forgeries relate to the documents he filed with the state claiming that water testing had been done for four different schools. He filed what amounts to a false report with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation saying he’d done the tests.”

Hatchett documented that he performed the tests at the town of Rogersville’s sewer treatment plant laboratory.

Employees at the plant told Tennessee Comptroller investigators, however, that samples from the schools had not been tested at their facility. Additionally, no logs, notes, or records documenting that Hatchett had used the sewer treatment plant’s laboratory were found.

“He was charging the school system for doing the test, putting in the report that he had done the test, and he had not done the test,” Armstrong said. “I don’t believe there’s actually any time period (between 2011 and 2017) when he actually did the test. The fact that we don’t have every month accounted for (in the charges), I don’t think you can read into that he did it right the other months. I’m not aware of any month he did it correctly. I think there were times he actually took a sample, but he never took that sample to be tested.”

Hatchett, 50, 109 Sycamore St., Rogersville, was indicted on April 18 on one count of theft over $250,000, one count of theft over $60,000, and one count of official misconduct.

Theft over $250,000 is a Class A felony punishable by 15-25 years in prison.

Hatchett reportedly acquired the funds by a combination of unauthorized overtime payments and a scam similar to check kiting, except with water department cash deposits.

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

He had been free on $250,000 bond Wednesday morning when he was arrested on the new sealed indictment warrant.

Hatchett was booked into the Hawkins County Jail Wednesday morning and then released on an additional $75,000 bond. He will be arraigned on the new charges Aug. 31.

He is scheduled to appear in Hawkins County Criminal Court on Oct. 17 on the original charges.

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