Loss 'Substantial' But 'Everybody's In Good Shape,' Woolsey Says
BY KEN LITTLE
The alleged embezzlement of about $580,000 from Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Co. has not affected the Greene County firm's financial soundness, attorney Roger Woolsey said Monday.
About $580,000 was taken from the company last year in an alleged check-cashing scheme.
There are at least 25 defendants in the case. Ten have been arrested and formally charged with counts related to the theft, and authorities are looking for others named in indictments handed up last month by a Greene County grand jury.
Woolsey, who serves as Greene County Attorney, also represents Farmers Mutual in his capacity as a private lawyer. He spoke Monday on behalf of the company.
"There's no question it is a substantial loss," Woolsey said.
Farmer's Mutual hopes to recover the missing cash from the defendants in the case, he stated.
"The business is financially sound and has been for over 100 years. It's just an unfortunate situation," Woolsey said.
An investigation began in December 2012 by the Greeneville Police Department that also involved the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. It culminated in the indictments last month.
Patty Jo Cogdill-Good, 45, of 450 Clear Creek Road, Chuckey, was indicted on a charge of theft of property valued at more than $60,000. She was arrested last week on a capias presentment, according to documents.
Good, a former employee of the business, is free on $100,000 bond.
Her daughter Shellcie Good, 23, of the Chuckey address, is also charged with theft over $60,000. She was arrested Nov. 20.
Patty Good is the daughter-in-law of Willie Good, retired secretary/treasurer of the Greene County Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Co. Shellcie Good is his granddaughter.
Willie Good, a longtime former Greene County commissioner, is not charged in connection with the scheme and is not involved in the investigation, authorities said.
Since Farmers Mutual is a mutual company chartered in Tennessee, Woolsey said that the owners of the company are the actual policy-holders.
"Everybody's in good shape. The policies remain in effect," he said, while acknowledging that "Nobody wants to accept this kind of loss."
"We've had discussions with the State of Tennessee and (state) Department of Insurance, and everything is fine with them," Woolsey said.
Patty Good worked for Farmers Mutual for a number of years.
"I'm sure it was disappointing to management and the board of directors when a former longtime employee is one of the key persons being charged with taking money from the company," Woolsey said.
Another arrest in the case was made on Monday. Greeneville police Detective Lt. David Crum said that Christine G. Galloway, 49, who has a recent address in Jonesborough, is charged with theft over $10,000.
Bond was set at $30,000. As with other defendants in the case, her first scheduled Greene County Criminal Court appearance is set for March 31.
Rodney A. Vaught, 37, of Baileyton, was charged last week with theft over $10,000.
All the defendants in the case are current or former Greene County residents, according to Greeneville Police Detective Lt. David Crum, the lead investigator.
The alleged offenses occurred between March and December 2012, according to indictments. On Dec. 18, 2012, Greeneville police "were notified of a theft believed to be approximately $580,000," Crum said last week.
The investigation is nearly complete, he said Monday.
"There will be some additional interviews as people get picked up," he said. "The bulk of the case was developed at that time."
Cecil Mills Jr., assistant district attorney general, said last week that one or more defendants prepared Farmers Mutual checks that were cashed at local banks by others who were not customers or associated with the insurance company.
"The company is still very solvent. We have the resources to pay all legitimate claims. We're still open for business and there has been no disruption of service because of the loss and the investigation," Woolsey said.
"The company is financially strong."