City of Kingsport releases statement following indictment of former program coordinator on misconduct charges

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Photo: Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The City of Kingsport has released a statement after the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office announced a former community development program coordinator had been indicted on 20 counts of official misconduct.

According to the city, officials have been made aware of the indictment and arrest of Mark Haga.

“The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury,” the statement reads. “The disbursement of and oversight of these funds were the primary responsibility of this former employee.”

The Comptroller’s Office reported Haga had given contracts to his brother-in-law’s construction company for home repair projects. His brother-in-law’s company was reportedly awarded payments through the city amounting to more than $700,000.

“Neither the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, nor the current City Manager’s administration, were aware of any issues or concerns with the disbursement and oversight of this federally funded program,” the statement reads.

The city says none of the matters for which Haga is under investigation were identified.

The statement says a number of Kingsport’s programs receiving federal funding are “are subject to review by federal agencies.” City officials say the issues related to the investigation were not discovered by an annual audit or review conducted by a federal agency.

The projects that Haga’s charges stem from took place between March 2008 and January 2020, according to the comptroller’s office. Two of the projects totaled $18,100 and resulted in work being performed on Haga’s sister-in-law’s home.

“The City of Kingsport has fully cooperated with the Comptroller’s office throughout the investigative process and will continue to cooperate with authorities moving forward,” the statement reads. “However, the city has already taken many steps to strengthen oversight and prevent additional incidents of this nature in the future.”

The city has not conducted its own investigation yet to avoid interfering with the comptroller’s. City officials now plan to conduct and internal investigation and take further action if needed.

To read the comptroller’s complete investigative report, click here.

You can read the full statement from the City of Kingsport below:

“The City of Kingsport has been made aware of the recent indictment and arrest of a former employee. The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury. The disbursement of and oversight of these funds were the primary responsibility of this former employee.

Neither the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, nor the current City Manager’s administration, were aware of any issues or concerns with the disbursement and oversight of this federally funded program.

Notwithstanding the annual audits of city financial records, none of the matters under investigation were ever identified. Additionally, many of the city’s programs that receive federal funding are subject to review by federal agencies. No issues or concerns were ever identified as a result of an audit or a review conducted by a federal agency.

The City of Kingsport has fully cooperated with the Comptroller’s office throughout the investigative process and will continue to cooperate with authorities moving forward. However, the city has already taken many steps to strengthen oversight and prevent additional incidents of this nature in the future.

So as not to interfere with the comptroller’s investigation, the city has not yet conducted its own investigation on the matter. The city will now conduct an internal investigation of the disbursement of and oversight for the Community Development Block Grant funds in question, and if appropriate take further remedial action. To the extent any current city employees are found to have been involved in improper disbursement or oversight of the grant funds, the city will take appropriate action.”

City of Kingsport

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