For second time, town thief denied parole

Friday, July 22, 2011

The man who confessed to stealing more than $85,000 from Cornersville should remain a state prisoner at least until he's eligible for another parole hearing.

That's what the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole decided last week when answering Eric Brangenberg's request for early release. It was the second time he's been denied.

Cornersville's immediate past town administrator, Eric Brangenberg, 50, has served four and a half years of a sentence due to end Nov. 11, 2015. He pleaded guilty in December 2006 to stealing more than $85,000 from the small town at the south end of the county.

Brangenburg has been on work release from the Charles Bass Correctional Center since May, according to Taylor Brandon, Brangenberg's successor as town administrator.

Four people from Cornersville made the trip to Nashville to speak in opposition to Brangenberg's parole. They were current aldermen Doris Arthur and Carl Moses, newly appointed alderman Tony McKibbon, and Brandon.

Arthur, Moses and Brandon made their first trip to oppose Brangenberg's parole in September 2007.

Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard wrote a letter opposing Brangenberg's parole.

"The State has serious objections to any form of early release for Mr. Brangenberg," Barnard wrote, adding "Brangenberg has a prior record in the State of Michigan for writing checks on a closed account."

Two people, his current employer (Yogi Bear's Jellystone RV Park in Nashville) and a counselor, spoke in favor of Brangenberg.

The parole hearing officer said, in light of those opposed to Brangenberg's early release, she would recommend to the Board of Probation and Parole to deny Brangenberg's parole for two more years.

"We were very surprised," Brandon said, stating that the Cornersville delegation had assumed Brangenberg would be paroled.

Brangenberg resigned as administrator and fire chief in July 2005, "amid allegations involving the misappropriation of funds," as reported here at the time. Brangenberg was caught depositing a check payable to the Town of Cornersville in his personal account. That particular check was repaid to the town, but the incident led to an investigation, an audit by the state's Comptroller of the Treasury, and, finally, a 29-count indictment.

The Comptroller reported that Brangenberg "diverted $85,351 to which he was not entitled" over a 13-month period. This was done by taking out loans for the town that were not authorized by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and then using the money for his own purposes, as well as by writing Town of Cornersville checks for his own purchases.

Prior to his employment in Cornersville, Brangenberg was city manager of Millersville in Robertson County.

Brangenberg was a bonded employee, Brandon explained, so the insurance company paid the town back for what he had taken. If any restitution is made to the town, Brandon said, it will be returned to the insurance company. Brandon said it was his understanding that the insurance company would seek to get their money back from Brangenberg.