Tipton County fire chief suspended after arrest

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TIPTON COUNTY, Tenn. — A Tipton County fire chief was arrested on a theft charge Tuesday afternoon, the Tipton County Sheriff’s Office said.

Chief Deputy Billy Daugherty says Fire Chief Michael Naifeh has been charged with official misconduct and theft under $1,000. He was booked into the Tipton County Jail and has since been released.

Covington Mayor Justin Hanson released a statement, saying:

“While in Nashville on other City of Covington business, I received the news today that a Tipton County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Covington Fire Department Chief Michael Naifeh. At this point in time, I am only aware that he was indicted on charges of official misconduct and theft under $1,000.

When the circumstances that lead to this indictment came to my attention some time ago, Chief Naifeh stated the use of the city credit card was inadvertent, and he made full restitution to the City.  However, since the matter involved public finances, I felt obligated to inform the Comptroller of the Treasury for further investigation, and I did so immediately.

The Comptroller’s investigation has obviously taken a long time, much longer than I expected. I have not seen their report, findings, or additional evidence that has been gleaned from that investigation. 

Based on the information I have at this time, I have suspended Chief Naifeh with pay pending my ability to obtain further details pertinent to the investigation.” 

The Comptroller has since released the results of the investigation. Their recommendation to the city is as follows.

Management should periodically remind those employees authorized to use a city credit card of
the city’s credit card policy and the users’ responsibility to use the card in compliance with that
policy. As a best practice, all city credit cards should be maintained in a secure designated location
within each department when not in use.

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