A former Warren County Airport manager has been spared jail time for stealing tens of thou-sands of dollars from the airport.
The former manager, John Michael Patterson, 43, entered a no-contest plea before Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley on Wednesday afternoon to charges of felony theft and forgery. He was granted a three-year judicial diversion, meaning he can have his criminal record erased once his three years on probation are complete.
Patterson will also be required to make restitution to three separate people and entities. They include $17,478 to Warren County, $550 to Leon Walker, and $13,081 to the state Comptroller’s Office. He has reportedly already paid the restitution. The other counts were dismissed as part of his plea bargain.
Patterson was living in Clarksville when he was arrested for embezzlement from the local airport, charges which were rendered in the form of sealed indictments in August 2013. He had already left Warren County to take the Clarksville airport director’s job. It was after his departure audits revealed there was money missing from the airport funds. The case was turned over to the TBI.
According to the TBI investigation, Patterson took approximately $17,500 from Warren County Airport between 2007 and 2011 while working as airport manager. He stole the money by forging the daily logs which kept a running total of cash and credits coming into the airport.
On several occasions, Patterson whited-out the amount of cash that had been taken in, thereby doctoring the official airport financial log. He would then pocket the cash. Investigators also said there were irregularities when it came to the cash taken in by hangar rentals.
The county has installed a new computer system at the airport since Patterson was charged, making movement of money and credits from things like hangar rentals more traceable.