published Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Chattanooga's city auditor details charges against Kenardo Curry

Kenardo Curry, a former Chattanooga Neighborhood Services director charged with 19 counts of fraud in a 2006 indictment, sits during his jury trial in Judge Rebecca Stern's courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
Kenardo Curry, a former Chattanooga Neighborhood Services director charged with 19 counts of fraud in a 2006 indictment, sits during his jury trial in Judge Rebecca Stern's courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
Photo by Dan Henry.

Chattanooga's city auditor spent nearly the entire day Tuesday testifying in the theft and official misconduct trial of former Neighborhood Services Director Kenardo Curry.

Stan Sewell detailed audits in 2005 in which the city claimed Curry spent city money on studies for a Dallas Road property he wanted to buy with a partner for personal profit.

Curry, 47, was fired shortly after Mayor Ron Littlefield took office in 2005 and later indicted on 17 theft counts, one charge of fraudulent use of a credit card and one charge of official misconduct.

At the beginning of the trial, Curry's attorney, Dan Ripper, told the jury that his client was the victim of Littlefield's scorn and the scapegoat for audit problems despite evidence otherwise.

"There won't be a question in your mind, not a one, that they were going to get Mr. Curry one way or another," Ripper told the jury.

Prosecutor Bret Alexander admitted to jurors that there would be statements they'd hear and methods they wouldn't agree with throughout the trial. But he asked them to wait to hear all of the evidence. Other investigators are scheduled to testify later in the trial.

During the first day of the trial, jurors heard an hour-and-a-half-long audio recording in which Sewell and a city detective interrogated Curry's co-workers.

One co-worker involved in alleged theft, Jennifer Center, saw her charges dismissed in 2011 when evidence seized from her home had been accidentally destroyed by Chattanooga police.

Sewell told some of those interviewed, "You can either be a witness or a suspect."

Ripper pointed to much of the recording as evidence investigators were targeting Curry from the beginning of the investigation.

The audit showed that Curry also used $25,000 of city money on four pairs of earrings, electric recording equipment, digital cameras, a DVD player, a television, two airplane tickets and work on painting, heating and air conditioning systems at the Church of God of Prophecy.

The trial is scheduled to resume today.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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