259 Felony Counts Issued in Alcorn County Following OSA Investigation
A year-long investigation by special agents from the Office of the State Auditor has resulted in the filing of 259 criminal charges and the arrest of a member of the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors, the county purchase clerk, and three county vendors. All are alleged to have taken part in various conspiracies designed to and resulting in the embezzlement of public funds.
"The taxpayers of Alcorn County should be incensed that an elected official and a county employee were literally 'cooking the books' with the aid and assistance of three local residents," State Auditor Stacey Pickering said. "This is one of the most elaborate cases of fraud I've seen since becoming State Auditor."
An Alcorn County Grand Jury issued copious arrest warrants Tuesday against District Two Supervisor Jimmy Dallan (Dal) Nelms, Purchase Clerk William Paul Rhodes, and county vendors Jimmy Ray Mitchell, Joseph Lin McNair, Jr., and Danny Roy Peters.
Nelms, 42, of Glen, is charged with 156 criminal counts. Included are charges of embezzlement by a public official, making false representation to defraud the government, fraudulently obtaining public funds, forgery, and conspiracy. Nelms is accused of creating an embezzlement scheme in which he used his position as county supervisor to purchase heavy equipment from a county vendor and receiving payments from the vendor in exchange for the purchases.
Additionally, Nelms is accused of accepting payments from county vendors and using county funds to pay fraudulent invoices for work that was never performed as well as for rental equipment that was never rented. He is also accused of intercepting checks intended for alleged participating vendors, forging their signatures, and cashing the checks. Nelms is also alleged to have used county funds to pay for his wife's personal cell phone and the accompanying monthly cell phone bill.
Other charges against Nelms include the use of fraudulent mock bidders as county vendors to increase the price of equipment purchased on behalf of the county; having fraudulent vendors sell Nelms' personal items to Alcorn County, and utilizing a county-owned vehicle to transport his personal boat to and from Arkansas. He is also accused of purchasing personal items for his home on the Alcorn County Lowe's account. In addition to the arrest warrant, Nelms has been served with a civil demand for $308,244.71. If found guilty of all charges, he could face more than 600 years in prison.
Rhodes, 55, of Corinth, has been charged with 13 criminal counts. Included are charges of conspiracy to commit embezzlement, making false representations to defraud the government, and hindering prosecution in the first degree. Rhodes is accused of using his position as purchase clerk to circumvent the bidding process as a means to facilitate embezzlement schemes, conspiring with others to create fraudulent dumpsites in an effort to avoid investigation, and hindering OSA Special Agents' investigation by photographing investigative notes and providing them to Nelms. In addition to the arrest warrant, Rhodes has been served with a civil demand for $77,509.94. If found guilty of all charges, he could face more than 60 years in prison.
Mitchell, 43, of Corinth, has been charged with 32 criminal counts. Included are charges of fraudulently obtaining public funds and conspiracy to commit embezzlement. Mitchell is accused of assisting Nelms in the creation of multiple schemes designed to embezzle funds from Alcorn County through the fraudulent sale of nonexistent culverts to the county and fraudulent equipment sales. He is believed to have violated a subpoena in an attempt to conceal various crimes he committed with Nelms. Mitchell has been served with a civil demand for $95,382.35. If found guilty of all charges, he could face more than 150 years in prison.
McNair Jr., 39, of Glen, has been charged with 31 criminal counts. Included are charges of fraudulently obtaining public funds and conspiracy to commit embezzlement. McNair is accused of allowing Nelms to submit fraudulent invoices to Alcorn County on his behalf and paying Nelms a portion of the checks once payment was received. He is also accused of allowing Nelms to use his business to sell personal items to Alcorn County and paying proceeds of the sales to Nelms. If found guilty of all charges, McNair could face more than 150 years in prison.
Peters, 61, of Corinth, has been charged with 27 criminal counts. Included are charges of conspiracy and fraudulently obtaining public funds. Peters is accused of allowing Nelms to submit fraudulent invoices to Alcorn County under his name and receiving a portion of the payments that resulted from the submission of the fraudulent invoices. If found guilty of all charges, Peters could face more than 150 years in prison.