KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer has been indicted on official misconduct and theft of property charges for putting at least $60,000 worth of gas using a state fuel card over 13 years, according to an indictment obtained by News Channel 11’s sister station in Knoxville.
The indictment signed by the grand jury on Sept. 18 alleges that between January 1, 2010 and June 1, 2023, James Buchanan used the state’s credit to purchase $60,000 worth of gas.
In June, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released it was investigating allegations made against a TWRA officer in Morgan County.
An evidence log reports the TWRA seized four gas cans full of gas, along with 24 other gas or fuel cans, a “WEX Fleet Card,” a “US Bank Card” and miscellaneous gas receipts.
An affidavit states the investigation began in May 2023 after an internal auditor was notified in February of possible fraudulent gas card use.
During the TWRA’s internal analysis, the auditor reportedly found that between August 2008 and February 2023, Buchanan spent $119,002 on 50,925.7 gallons of fuel, but only traveled 227,357 miles, meaning his issued vehicle would have only been getting three to four miles per gallon.
In March, TWRA investigators placed a GPS tracker on the vehicle Buchanan was assigned. The affidavit also states investigators surveilled Buchanan and saw him filling fuel cans in the back of the vehicle on at least four occasions. It also adds that on multiple occasions an investigator saw the GPS tracker on the vehicle was seen leaving Buchanan’s residence, going to a gas station, and then returning to the residence.