Former "Living The Dream" Executive Director Sentenced In Fraud Scheme
Wendy Askins, 55, of Red Boiling Springs, former Executive Director for the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD), was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger to 18 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for misusing the organization’s funds, announced David Rivera, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. Judge Trauger also ordered Askins to pay $233,000 in restitution.
Askins was previously charged in a 12-count superseding indictment charging conspiracy, bank fraud, embezzlement, and making false statements. Askins pleaded guilty on August 30, 2016, to theft of Federal program funds.
The fraudulent scheme was carried out from March 2010 through February 2012. During that period, Askins purchased a property outside of Cookeville, Tennessee which she named Living the Dream. Askins used funds belonging to UCDD and its sister agencies, including the Cumberland Regional Development Corporation (CRDC) and the Cumberland Area Investment Corporation (CAIC), to renovate the home. Living the Dream was to serve as an assisted living facility for senior citizens, however, Askins and her daughter moved into the property and made luxurious upgrades to their residential wings.
Askins also set up a company called L.A. Management to operate the senior living facility. In order to hide her wrongdoing, Askins directed employees to falsify the minutes of the board of director’s meetings. At other times, Askins lied about the circumstances of the fake board minutes.
According to court documents, Askins carried out the scheme with co-defendant Larry Webb, who previously pleaded guilty on August 17, 2015. Webb is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2016.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie N. Toussaint and William F. Abely.