Investigation: Former Franklin fire chief misused company vehicle, worked out of state without authorization

A report from the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury found a former city employee worked out of the state without authorization and misused a city vehicle. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
A report from the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury found a former city employee worked out of the state without authorization and misused a city vehicle. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)

A report from the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury found a former city employee worked out of the state without authorization and misused a city vehicle. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)

Results released Aug. 23 from an investigation conducted by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury found that former Franklin Fire Chief Rocky Garzarek misused a company vehicle and worked out of state without prior authorization from the city in his last few months working with the city.

The report found that from Feb. 27-March 16, 2020, Garzarek used a city-issued vehicle to travel more than 3,300 miles over 13 business days.

"A review of Garzarek's calendar and conversations with city personnel revealed no apparent business purpose for the excessive amount of mileage driven," officials said in the report.

According to the city of Franklin's policies, personal use of city-issued vehicle is authorized, but that use should be minimized. The estimated mileage needed to travel to all of the city's fire station totals less than 50 miles. The report states Garzarek did not use a city fuel card to purchase gasoline during that time.

The report also found that Garzarek was working remotely out of state without prior authorization during the early months of the pandemic.


When the city declared a state of emergency, Garzarek told employees on March 17 that he would be working remotely until further notice, like many city employees. Shortly after, on March 19, 20 and 23, 2020, he used vacation time to travel out of state and resumed work March 24.

From that time in March until May 29, 2020, Garzarek told city officials he had returned to Franklin on one occasion but had also spent time in Alabama and Florida. Garzarek said should there have been a "major emergency," he could have been in the city within eight hours.

While some employees knew Garzarek had traveled out of state and was working there, they were led to believe he had authorization to do so, according to the report. During this time, Garzarek's supervisor was not aware he was working out of state.

There was also some concern Garzarek had used his city-issued vehicle during some of his time out of the state, according to the report.

The city scheduled a formal meeting with Garzarek for June 16, 2020, at which point he resigned from his position.

According to the report, Garzarek has been indicted by a Williamson County grand jury on one count of official misconduct. According to the comptroller, the allegations are only accusations, and Garzarek is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Garzarek had served as chief since 2004 and was succeeded by current Chief Glenn Johnson.

See the full report here.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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