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Former Rockwood public works director Tom Pierce was indicted Wednesday on charges that include theft, official misconduct and unauthorized use of credit cards.
Pierce was seen as a loyal city employee, and the accusations surprised city officials.
“I had a lot of confidence in Tom’s ability and the job he was doing for the city,” Mayor James Watts said. “When it all came up, certainly, it was a shock. But again, we had to do what is in the best interest of not only our employees but the city of Rockwood.”
“I certainly have a lot of respect for Tom, and I’m very sorry for the problems that have been created,” he said.
The indictment includes six different felony counts believed to have occurred between Jan. 8, 2009, and Jan. 13, 2012. Pierce is accused of using city credit cards to purchase firearms, ammunition, clothing, cameras and other items.
“He has a theft between $10,000 and $60,000, which is a C felony,” District Attorney General Russell Johnson said. That, Johnson said, accounts for around $32,000 an investigative audit found that he had used as personal funds that was unauthorized.
“He has two counts of unauthorized use of a credit card,” Johnson said.
The indictment said Pierce used a Visa credit card to obtain items valuing $10,000 or more “with knowledge he was not authorized to make personal purchases with said card,” and used a Walmart charge card belonging to the city to purchase items valuing $1,000 or more.
Pierce is also facing four counts of official misconduct, but can be convicted of only one.
“They are alternative counts, meaning he can’t be convicted of all four,” Johnson said.
He said a jury would hear the evidence and, if deciding to convict, would select the official misconduct count which had the wording the jury felt fit the crime best.
An addendum to the Roane County Grand Jury Report said auditor Phillip Job of the State Comptroller’s Office conducted an investigative audit of the Rockwood City Parks and Recreation Department at the request of Watts and Johnson.
The state’s Comptroller’s Office is expected to publish the full investigative report on its website once Pierce is in custody, according to information from Johnson.
Officials said Pierce was expected to turn himself in to the Roane County Jail Thursday.