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Local indictment has implications in Tennessee

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Knox County finance director fired after indictment comes to light

By Jesse Osbourne


An indictment in Washington County earlier this year had serious implications for a man in Knox County, Tenn.

Burton Webb, listed on the indictment as residing in Athens, Tenn., was charged with theft by failure to make required disposition of property over $10,000.
According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel in Knoxville, Tenn., Webb was recently appointed as the Knox County Finance Director.
After Webb’s indictment was discovered, he was fired from the position.
“It is apparent that Burton Webb’s legal problems are more extensive than either he or I realized, and this afternoon (Friday) I became aware of an issue that he is going to have to address,” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said in a press release.“I have spoken with Burton, and he understands that he will no longer be employed by Knox County.”
Will Singleton, a Washington County resident, said on Monday in a phone interview that he hired Webb last fall to build a log cabin.
Singleton, sole owner of Double Dee Holdings, said he paid Webb over $140,000 to build a log cabin.
Of that, $22,000 was for doors and windows. Those materials were never delivered.
Singleton said he had to buy new interior and exterior doors, which cost approximately $12,000.
He said Webb also shorted him another $7,000 to $8,000 in materials.
Singleton said he had to drive to the northern part of Ohio to find replacement windows.
He also said he’s been unable to locate Webb. Singleton added that he’s sent over 100 emails trying to reach him.
Singleton said that Webb has supposedly closed down the company that was under contract to build the cabin, Tennessee Log and Timber Homes, but added, “something shady is going on.”
He said he wanted to have Webb extradited to Washington County and arrested.
Chris H. Trew, Webb’s attorney, said that Webb has closed the company, though he doesn’t remember the date.
He said that the housing market, specifically the niche market for log homes, took a big hit, along with the rest of the housing industry.
Trew said he considers this case a civil matter and that Singleton used the criminal system to gain an advantage.
He added that Singleton still has obligations under the contract and owes money to Tennessee Log and Timber Homes.
Trew said that Webb is in the process of retaining an attorney in Kentucky to try and solve the issue.
“What the corporation owes Mr. Singleton is some doors,” Trew said. The amount, he added, was less than $10,000.
Trew said that the charge of theft, which is listed on the indictment, is inaccurate.
He said that he and his client deny theft, but if it were theft, it would have occurred in Tennessee and not in Kentucky.
If it was determined that a theft took place, his question, he said, is where and when did it occur. If theft occurred, he said, it occurred in Tennessee.
According to the Kentucky Court of Justice website, Webb’s case is scheduled for review on April 25 at 9 a.m.

Previous legal battle
Singleton has been involved in a previous lawsuit against his former employer, Select Specialty  Hospital in Lexington.
According to an opinion filed about the case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Singleton’s case originated in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Singleton filed a claim of unlawful retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The employer, Select, alleged that it “terminated Singleton for numerous and ongoing errors pertaining to Singleton’s documentation of narcotics administration and patient pain levels, which it discovered during an investigation it initiated following the discrepancy in the count of a narcotic Singleton was responsible for administering.”
At both the district and court of appeals level, Singleton was ruled against.
At the district level, he was given a summary judgement, dismissing the case.
He appealed the judgement to the United States Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals voted 2-1 in favor of Select.
On Monday afternoon via telephone interview, Singleton confirmed that he was involved in the lawsuit.
He said that he sued Select because he did the right thing and he was fired. As a result, he said, they slandered him.
Singleton said he blew the whistle on some discriminating practices and was punished as a result.
In the Court of Appeals opinion, a 23-page document, it outlines three occasions during a three-and-a-half month period in which Singleton filed formal complaints alleging racist behavior among staff at the hospital.
According to the court opinion, each instance was investigated.
Nearly a week after the third formal complaint, an incident arose over a discrepancy in a medication dispensing machine.
An investigation began on Singleton, which included an examination of “his documentation and narcotics control practices  over the most recent six weeks.”
Singleton was suspended without pay while the investigation occurred. He was later fired for “failing to meet nursing practice standards related, but not limited to, control of narcotic medications and proper documentation of pain assessment and narcotic administration.”
In the opinion, it cites that Singleton was shown charts he had prepared that contained inconsistencies and errors he couldn’t account for.
“With respect to more than one patient to whom Singleton had given morphine, for example, Singleton admitted that there was no place on their charts where he had documented how many milligrams of the drug he had administered,” according to the court opinion.
The opinion also cited that Singleton was administering medicine to patients that didn’t need it.
“Singleton was unable to explain why, on one chart, he had administered morphine to a patient that had been resting comfortably for several hours, and whom Singleton had rated a ‘zero’ on a pain scale of zero to 10,” according to the opinion.
Circuit Judge Damon J. Keith wrote a dissenting opinion.
He disagreed with the majority, arguing that a jury could find that Singleton was correct in some of his claims.
Keith stated that Singleton presented data logs that demonstrated the carelessness of how Select managed pharmaceuticals.
The medicine dispensing machine was shown to have 343 discrepancies in over a year’s time, Keith wrote.
Keith said that Select “solicited, but never received or reviewed, Singleton’s drug test” that came as a result of his investigation.
Singleton, via phone on Monday, said he passed a urine test and was denied a blood test.
According to the opinion, he alleged that Select’s CEO falsely told him that he had failed a drug test, but refused to give him copies of the investigation reports.
The judge also pointed to evaluations of Singleton’s work prior to the incidents.
Singleton was given high ratings, especially in pain assessment.
“The tides only turned a week after Singleton submitted a racial complaint,” Keith wrote.
Then, he wrote, the errors Singleton committed became extreme.
Keith concluded that the case should be left for a jury to decide.
The Court of Appeals opinion can be found online by searching for “Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals + Will Singleton.” The document is located at law.justia.com.