Newspaper Archive of
Stone County Enterprise
Wiggins , Mississippi
January 28, 2010     Stone County Enterprise
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January 28, 2010

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 Stone County Enterprise Page 13B Former New Augusta Clerk indicted for embezzling Wire Report Holder as far back as 2oo6," said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. "The auditor for the City of New Augusta discovered what he believed to be evidence of embezzlement and alert- ed our special agents to the situation in June 2OO9." STATE Waveland mayor indicted (Jackson, Miss.) A Perry County Grand Jury returned a multiple count indictment for Emily Holder, former city clerk of the town of New Augusta. Charges include embezzle- ment and five cotlnts of forgery. The State Auditor's investigation 'alleges that Holder embez- zled hinds from the City by creating checks made out to her and forging Mayor Albert Garner's signature. 21ae investigation deter- mined that Holder embez- zled $52,667.71. In addi- tion, the State Auditor's Office plans to seek recov- ery of investigative costs and interest. "This activity took place Holder, 44 of Petal, began employment with the City of New Augusta on January 16, 2ool and resigned on June 18, 2009. Municipal audits are required by state law to be conducted annually by a contracted CPA firm and be submitted to the State Auditor's Office by September 30. Although the State Auditor's Office does not have jurisdiction to perform the audit as it does in local counties and school districts, state law does allow the Auditor to investigate allegations of embezzlement of misuse of municipal funds just as it can investigate any state or local governmental entity. Wire Report money, I am committed to Fuelman purchases have (Jackson, Miss.) The State Auditor's Office has investigated a case involv- ing John Thomas Longo, Mayor of Waveland, fuel- ing a personal vehicle and paying for the fuel on a government-issued Fuelman credit card. Special agents with the State Auditor's Office arrested Longo on Friday, January 22 and served him with the capias on indict- ment handed down by the Grand Jury of Hancock County. The State Auditor alleges that Longo embezzled $x,116.84 in Fuelman pur- chases that were used in a personal vehicle and not in his government-issued vehicle. "Although this embezzle- ment is not a large sum of Former JCJC employee sentenced to 10 years holding any government employee accountable to the taxpayers of Mississippi for embezzle- ment and fraud," said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. "An elected official must be held to the highest stan- dard and using govern- ment funds for personal use will not be tolerated. been scrntinized across the State because of the high risk of fl'aud, and our agents continue to look into allegations of embez- zlement involving these purchases." Longo, 51, was elected mayor of the City of Waveland in 1998 and cur- rently holds the office. CLASSIFIEDS... ...THEY WORK FOR YOU! NEED TO SEND A FAX? Stop by the Stone County Enterprise 143 First St. Wiggins will do it for you! Wire Report (Jackson, Miss.) After pleading guilty to embez- zling more than $90,000 from Jones County Junior College, Tracy Laird, 40 of Ellisville, was sentenced on Wednesday to serve five years in prison and an additional five years post- release supervision. The State Auditor's Office investigated the case where Laird admitted to embez- zling funds beginning in July 2007. ~l]ae Auditor's The commissioner who was excluded, Dick Hall, filed a complaint in, , September with the state Ethics Commission, accusing his colleagues of violating the Open Meetings law. Hall said anyone who has spent time around government knows the state's open meetings law is flouted routinely, when quorums of public bodies meet privately to discuss business that should be conducted in the open. "It happens all the time," Hall said. "That was just a situation where I'd had enough." "Iqae Ethics Commission issued a preliminary ruling in October that the dinner violated the Open Meetings law. Northern District Commissioner Bill Minor told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that he wanted to put the incident behind him and that he would ask the Ethics Commission for details about the Open Meetings law. "I don't think we did anything wrong," Minor told the Tupelo newspaper. "I was invited to a dinner. They asked a question about the interchange, and we told them we did not have any more money for it.~! Minor said the rest of the dinner conversation was small talk. Hall said current state law has "no teeth" because officials who violate the Open Meetings Law don't pay the fines themselves; the pa)anent comes from public funds. "The punishment should go to the individuals involved," Hall said. "It's an individual behavior and it ought to be individually penalized." Bills pending in the Mississippi Legislature this session would put the fines on the indixddual rather and would ban payment from public funds. The prospects for the bills are investigation started in February 2009. Laird was employed at JCJC from May 1999 - February 27, 2009. "I%e college reported accounting violations to the State Auditor's Office last spring after uncovering questionable activity by Tracy Laird," according to a prepared statement by Jones County Junior College. "Laird was a bonded employee of the college who was terminat- ed when college officials discovered the violations." Judge Landrum also ordered Laird to repay $11o,429.46. Her pay- ments must begin within 60 days of beginning her five year post-release supervision. 'Iqae amount ordered in restitution rep- resents the embezzled amount, $90,537.57, and an additional $18,87o in interest, costs of services performed during the investigation by a contract- ed CPA firm and additional investigative costs. unclear. Mississippi law allows 14 working days for government employees to respond to requests for public records. :laaat covers items that should be readily available, such as lists of a city's or county's voting precincts, to those that require some work to compile, such as budget information or telephone records. Leonard Van Slyke, a Jackson attorney who handles open meetings and open records cases, says Mississippi's response time is too long. "My experience is that what tends to happen is that the records request sits on somebody's desk until the llth or 12th day before they pick it up," Van Slyke said. Ethics Commission director Tom Hood said the commission tries to emphasize to elected officials and government employees that they should be direct and open with the general public. "The Public Records Act and the courts have said everyone in government is supposed to err on the side of disclosure," Hood said. "If you're going to deny someone access to a record, you need to be very careful in doing that, you need to explain it and limit it as much as possible." Van Slyke said citizens are sometimes discouraged from seeking public records because government officials demand to know how the information will be used. "It's no one's business what you're going to do with it," Van Slyke said. "It's the public's information, and if you want it, you're entitled to it." DIABETES EDUCATION EVENT Wiggins Primary Care and Quality Medical Equipment would like m invite you to come in tbr our diabetic day: Friday, January 29th, at Wiggins Primary Care from 8 am to 12 pm We will have different diabetic information to choose form. Here are some of your FREE offerings: FREE Diabetic Education Information FREE Diabetic Foot Screenings FREE Blood Glucose Monitoring Education FREE Monitors available to those who qualify FREE Diabetic Recipes Over 30 d~{ferent styles of Medicare approved diabetic footwear wilt be available onsite! Wiggins Primary Care 975 Hall Street Wiggins, Mississippi 39577 For more information call 601-528-9119 "Embezzlement of public funds continues to be an issue we are seeing across the state of Mississippi as our State continues to face a poor economy," said State Auditor Staeey " Piekering. "I commend the leadership at Jones County Junior College for their efforts in uncovering this scheme to defraud the tax- payers of Mississippi and their proaetive efforts to prevent this type situation from happening in the future. I also appreciate the support of District Attorney Tony Buckley in presenting this case and the efforts of the Court." 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