Investigation Alleges County Clerk Altered Loan Titles | News
The results of an investigation of the Overton County Clerk’s Office have been turned over to the District Attorney General’s Office for the 13th Judicial District. These findings allege that fake vehicle titles were created to obtain personal loans.
The investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, in conjunction with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Department of Revenue, found that Overton County Clerk Victoria Looper, working in her capacity as clerk, allegedly altered vehicle titles to inappropriately generate new registrations and titles. She then used these securities to obtain personal bank loans.
Key findings from the investigation include the following allegations:
•The clerk changed the title of a 1949 Cadillac to indicate that it had been sold to one of his family members, then changed the date of the sale to indicate that it had been purchased recently.
The 1949 Cadillac had been destroyed in a garage fire around the year 2000. The clerk reportedly registered the title with the state and used the new false title as collateral to obtain a $15,000 personal bank loan.
“The clerk altered the buyer’s information on the back of the title of a 1949 Cadillac by noting the printed name of the previous owner and inserting the name of a family member,” the report said. investigation. “She also marked the previous owner’s signature and replaced it with a signature matching the family member’s name, then changed the date of the sale to indicate that the vehicle was recently purchased.
“The previous owner, whose name and signature was stamped on the title, said the 1949 Cadillac was destroyed in a garage fire circa 2000. The clerk registered the amended title with the State of Tennessee and then presented the false title to a financial institution as security for a personal loan.
• The clerk changed the transaction information on the title of a 1979 Ford. Although this vehicle no longer exists, the clerk allegedly registered the vehicle with the state and used the new false title as collateral to obtain a loan personal banking of $28,000.
“The clerk obtained a second title from the same acquaintance mentioned above for a 1979 Ford,” the investigation report said. “The seller and buyer information has been completed to show that the transaction was between the clerk and the previous owner; however, the registrar and acquaintance said the title had passed from the acquaintance to the registrar, not from the previous owner to the registrar.
“That 1979 Ford no longer exists; however, the clerk registered the title with the state of Tennessee and presented the false title to a financial institution as security for a personal loan.
During an interview with Highway Patrol and Revenue investigators, Looper reportedly admitted to altering titles to obtain loans, and she said she never took possession of the vehicles in question.
“The Overton County Clerk altered vehicle titles to improperly generate new registrations and titles, which she used to secure personal bank loans,” the inquest report said. “During our investigation, the attendant said that she had received certificates of title (titles) for vehicles from an acquaintance, and that she had altered at least two of these titles, falsifying the sales information to obtain new registrations and new titles, and then used these new vehicle titles to obtain personal loans.
Looper also allegedly manipulated and/or avoided paying sales tax by declaring vehicles as gifts, thereby falsifying county and state records. In one case, the clerk sold a vehicle to a mechanic to whom she owed money and allowed it to be registered as a gift to the buyer.
Investigators also allege Looper misappropriated county-owned property when she removed office furniture, equipment and flooring from the clerk’s office space. She did not get the approval of Overton County Executive Ben Danner. Office furniture and other equipment was loaded onto a trailer and transported to private property. None of these items had been returned to the county as of the report date.
“Public servants must conduct government business with a high level of integrity,” Comptroller Jason E. Mumpower said. “Falsifying transactions and creating erroneous tax exemptions violate state guidelines and laws. Citizens expect their elected officials to demonstrate personal and professional ethical conduct.
To view the investigation report, visit https://comptroller.tn.gov/office-functions/investigations/find.html.
Looper, who has served since 2014, is currently seeking re-election to the position.
The Overton County Audit Committee met Tuesday, April 12 to discuss the findings at the county clerk’s office.
According to County Commissioner, Audit Committee member Donna Savage first addressed the finding about money not being deposited within three days, and Looper told them she was now making daily deposits.
The second finding was that the county clerk is under scrutiny.
“When I asked the county clerk if she could tell us why she was being investigated, she told me I could speak with her attorney,” Commissioner Savage said.
“I called his lawyer and left a message but received no response.”
She noted that meetings are open to the public, recorded and stored at the county executive’s office.
The Audit Committee will meet at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, May 2.