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UCDD Boss Gets A Deal On Agency's Gazebo

UCDD Boss Gets A Deal On Agency's Gazebo

By Phil Williams. CREATED Feb 28, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- NewsChannel 5 Investigates has uncovered yet another questionable transaction involving the controversial head of the Upper Cumberland Development District.

But this time, instead of a mansion, it involves a gazebo.

For weeks, NewsChannel 5 had heard about a gazebo that, years ago, somehow went from UCDD to Wendy Askins' own house.

Documents, just obtained Tuesday, tell that story.  The documents were obtained under Tennessee's public records law.

Before Askins moved to that million-dollar Living the Dream home, she lived in a more modest Cookeville house with a pool and a gazebo out back.

Those new documents show that the gazebo was originally built for UCDD offices as an employee break area.

One page shows where UCDD took bids in 1998. The winning bid had two options: $3,100 or $3,800. We don't know which one was the final price.

Then, 18 months later, Askins decided to sell it, publishing an "invitation to bid" in the local newspaper.

One of Askins' former employees submitted a bid for only $500, which was later chosen by UCDD as the winner.

That man tells NewsChannel 5 Investigates that the bid and money really came from Askins -- which is how the gazebo ended up in her back yard.

We showed the documents to tax watchdog Ben Cunningham, who sees a pattern there.

"She used this facility, this building that was built for the taxpayers, for this particular this particular agency, and she took it to her house and put it on her personal property. There is no way that anybody could interpret that as anything other than thievery," Cunningham said.

"I mean, somebody should have suspected something. This was so brazen, so obvious. She obviously had no expectation that she was going to ever get caught for any of this."

NewsChannel 5 Investigates called Askins on two different telephone numbers Tuesday, but those calls were not returned.

Back to NC5 Investigates: UCDD
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Phil Williams

Phil Williams

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Phil Williams is chief investigative reporter for NewsChannel 5's nationally award-winning investigative team. His investigations have earned him journalism's highest honors.