Audit: Former Frankfort Parks Chief Sold Zoo Animals, Kept Cash In Coffee Cans

Feb 15, 2018

TPC Park in Frankfort, which houses the city's petting zoo.
Credit Classic Frankfort /

A completed review of the monetary misdeeds of a former Frankfort Parks Department chief includes an allegation he sold animals from a city petting zoo without prior authorization.

Joel Tatum was fired from his job late last year after city officials found thousands of dollars strewn about, with much of it stuffed into coffee cans in Tatum’s office.

A State Board of Accounts review says Tatum failed to keep almost any records. While he did collect money from pop machines and refill them with fizzy beverages, he didn’t note how much he collected or spent.

City Clerk-Treasurer Judy Sheets says Tatum also used animals from the TPC Park petting zoo as a kind of currency.

“During the investigation, it was brought to our attention that animals had been taken to some sort of an animal auction," Sheets says. "I just don’t even know for sure which one it was taken to – the superintendent at the time and another employee took those animals and sold some of the animals and then came back with some other animals.”

Sheets says she’s not aware of any charges the city plans to file against Tatum, who has already made some financial restitution.

As a result of the incident, city officials will make more frequent visits to municipal offices to assess whether rules are being followed and records kept.