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Timeline: UCDD Investigation

Timeline: UCDD Investigation

CREATED Jul 15, 2014

Wendy Askins, the former director of the Upper Cumberland Development District in Cookeville, is scheduled to go on trial in federal court in December 2014. Here are the stories that led to her indictment.

February 2012:

Government Agency Subsidizes Million-Dollar Home

A four-month NewsChannel 5 investigation has uncovered a government-subsidized project like you've probably never seen. It now has some folks asking whether the woman behind it is living the dream.

Documents Disappear, Bogus Ones Created At UCDD

There are new questions about how some documents disappeared from a Cookeville-based government agency, while someone created bogus ones for NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

UCDD Finances Campaign Event, Alcohol, Gifts

NewsChannel 5 Investigates has uncovered even more incredible spending at the Upper Cumberland Development District. It's spending that does nothing for the people who really need the help.

State Lawmakers Promise UCDD Investigation

Lawmakers are now promising a full investigation of what some are calling a full-blown scandal involving the Upper Cumberland Development District. It follows an exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation.

Regulators Find 'Conflicts Of Interests' At UCDD

A report by state regulators raises some serious questions about potential conflicts of interests with that million-dollar Living the Dream facility near Cookeville.

UCDD Boss Raises More Questions With Radio Interview

The controversy over the Upper Cumberland Development District took a new turn Friday as the head of that agency took to a radio station to defend herself, but her answers raised even more questions.

Fact-Check: Wendy Askins' Radio Interview

UCDD executive director Wendy Askins gave a radio interview on Friday, Feb. 17, to Cookeville talk show host Dwight Henry of WHUB-AM.  Here are some of the claims made by Ms. Askins.

UCDD Scandal Leads Board To Call Emergency Meeting

Less than a week after the first stories aired, the board of the Upper Cumberland, Development District has called an emergency meeting to figure out what to do next.

UCDD Boss Turns Agency Into Family Business

A NewsChannel 5 investigation has discovered that the Upper Cumberland Development District that was supposed to be helping the poor may have also been helping the family of the woman who runs it.

Lawmakers Question 'Living The Dream' Funding

State lawmakers want to know who paid for Living the Dream. Questions about that million-dollar house in Putnam County came up Wednesday at a budget hearing.

UCDD Board To Meet Friday Amid New Questions

A lot of eyes will be on the Upper Cumberland Development District Friday morning. That's when its board meets in emergency session to deal with the fallout from an exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation.

UCDD Board Puts Askins, Deputy On Administrative Leave

The head of the Upper Cumberland Development District, along with her top assistant, were suspended Friday -- with some of the agency's board members demanding that she be fired.

Overflow Crowd Attends UCDD Special Meeting

People from across Middle Tennessee crammed into a small meeting room to see how the board would react to the spending uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

UCDD Board Asks For Investigation Of Agency's Auditor

The board that oversees the Upper Cumberland Development District is pointing the finger at their own auditor. They want to know how he missed all the misspending uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

Where Was The UCDD Board During Spending Spree?

On Friday, the UCDD board suspended its longtime executive director and voted to report its own auditor for a possible state investigation. But where was the board when all this was going on?

UCDD Boss Gets A Deal On Agency's Gazebo

NewsChannel 5 Investigates has uncovered yet another questionable transaction involving the controversial head of the UCDD. But this time, instead of a mansion, it involves a gazebo.

DA Requests Special Prosecutor In UCDD Case

Cookeville's DA has asked for a special prosecutor to decide whether criminal charges should be brought over allegations surrounding the Upper Cumberland Development District.

March 2012:

UCDD Scandal Draws Attention From Feds

NewsChannel 5 has learned that investigators from two federal agencies are now taking an interest in the UCDD scandal. And the woman at the center of that controversy has now hired a lawyer.

Lawmakers Eye Special Committee After UCDD Scandal

The scandal involving the Upper Cumberland Development District now has lawmakers considering a special legislative committee to investigate other agencies that were also set up help the poor.

Family Collects Checks From Other UCDD Accounts

NewsChannel 5 Investigates has uncovered even more questions about checks written to UCDD executive director Wendy Askins' family and about furniture that no one can find.

Wendy Askins Resigns As Executive Director Of UCDD

Wendy Askins resigned Tuesday morning as executive director of the Upper Cumberland Development District following a series of reports by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

UCDD Lawyer: $900,000 At Risk In Living The Dream

A lawyer for the Upper Cumberland Development District had some bad news today for the board that oversees the Cookeville-based agency.

April 2012:

Askins Files For Unemployment Pay, Claims 'Harassment'

Wendy Askins resigned as she faced an investigation into the mismanagement of UCDD funds. Now she has filed for unemployment pay, claiming that she was the victim of a hostile work environment.

State Denies Askins' Unemployment Claim

The former head of the Upper Cumberland Development District has failed in her effort to get more of your tax money.

May 2012:

Scandal Leaves UCDD Stuck With Big Attorney Bills

UCDD officials are facing bills of almost a quarter of a million dollars from their own lawyers, as a result of the scandal that engulfed the Cookeville agency.

Interim UCDD Director Delivers Explosive Resignation

A longtime Upper Cumberland Development District employee has abruptly quit as UCDD's interim director, delivering an explosive resignation letter that blames the agency's board for much of its financial problems.

July 2012:

UCDD Firings Trigger Claims Of Retaliation

There are serious allegations about a vendetta now being waged inside the troubled Upper Cumberland Development District by allies of the longtime director who was forced to resign.

UCDD Chairman Blocks Votes On Fired Employees

The UCDD board held a special meeting to discuss the recent firings of two longtime employees. But, in the end, the board's chairman refused to let the board take any votes.

Insider Says UCDD Job Was 'Like A Death Sentence'

The former interim director of the Upper Cumberland Development District says he was put in a no-win situation when he took over the troubled agency.

Lawsuit Claims UCDD Officials Hacked Personal Messages

A federal lawsuit accuses top officials of the Upper Cumberland Development District of illegally hacking into the personal messages of an employee who refused to go along with the wrongdoing.

Askins Lawyer Downplays Auditors' Finding

An attorney for Wendy Askins claims state auditors have found very little in their investigation of the scandal involving the Upper Cumberland Development District.

UCDD Board To Pick New Executive Director

After months of scandal, the Upper Cumberland Development District could get a chance for a fresh start. The UCDD meets Tuesday afternoon to pick a new executive director.

New Boss Hired To Lead Troubled UCDD

The Upper Cumberland Development District has a new boss, and he said that he's got a plan to steer the Cookeville-based agency through its troubled waters.

August 2012:

Mother, Daughter Back On Job After UCDD Settlement

Two former employees of the Upper Cumberland Development District have settled their lawsuit against the Cookeville-based agency.

September 2012:

Audit Finds Misspending Inside UCDD Sister Agency

Another Cookeville-based government agency faces serious questions about how it spent the public's money. The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency is a sister agency to UCDD.

October 2012:

State Audit Confirms Blatant Misspending Inside UCDD

A just-released state audit confirms blatant misspending and other questionable conduct inside the Upper Cumberland Development District, putting most of the blame on longtime UCDD executive director Wendy Askins.

Cookeville Rep: 'Disturbing Pattern Of Fraud' At UCDD

Following the latest report on the Upper Cumberland Development District issued by the Tennessee Comptroller's Office, Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) issued the following statement.

November 2012:

FBI Seizes Computer, Other Evidence From UCDD

There's evidence that the FBI is intensifying its investigation into the Upper Cumberland Development District.

TBI Joins Expanding UCDD Criminal Probe

Now the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the state Attorney General's Office have joined the FBI in taking a hard look at Cookeville-based agency.

2013:

Investigators Return To UCDD Offices

The federal and state criminal investigation of the Upper Cumberland Development District appears to be heating up again.

UCDD Case Heads To Federal Grand Jury

Prosecutors are preparing to present the case involving the Upper Cumberland Development District and Wendy Askins to a federal grand jury.

Prosecutors Present UCDD Case To Federal Grand Jury

There were new developments Wednesday in the case involving Wendy Askins and the Upper Cumberland Development District in Cookeville.

Wendy Askins, Two Others Indicted By Federal Grand Jury

A federal grand jury has indicted three former officials from the Upper Cumberland Development District as part of a wide-ranging conspiracy into the misappropriation of federal funds by the Cookeville-based agency.

UCDD Officials Surrender To Face Federal Charges

Not guilty! That was the plea entered Friday by two former officials of the Upper Cumberland Development District in Cookeville.

Wendy Askins Indicted On State Charges

A Putnam County grand jury has indicted the former head of the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) on state charges, including theft over $60,000, forgery and money laundering.

Federal Trial Date Set For Former UCDD Head

A trial date has been set in the federal case against Wendy Askins, the former head of the Upper Cumberland Development District indicted on charges related to a million-dollar home in rural Putnam County.

2014:

Feds Agree To Drop Charges Against Dekalb County Mayor

Federal prosecutors have agreed to drop criminal charges against Dekalb County Mayor Mike Foster. It's part of the on-going case involving the Upper Cumberland Development District.

DeKalb County Mayor Cleared Of UCDD Charges

He had faced five years in federal prison as part of the scandal involving Wendy Askins and the Upper Cumberland Development District. But now DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster is planning for the future.

'Living The Dream' Prepared For Auction

The house once known as "Living the Dream" is being prepared for auction. The Putnam County house stood at the center of the scandal involving the Upper Cumberland Development District.

'Living The Dream' Furnishings Hit Auction Block

If you want a piece of "NewsChannel 5 Investigates" history, you'll be interested in an auction happening Saturday. On the auction block: items from the "Living the Dream" investigation.

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