Tuesday, March 15, 2016

DJP sues former secretary for embezzlement. She fires back.

 The Ben Allen indictment dominated the news last week.  Most readers know the story.  Linda Brune provided several boxes of Downtown Jackson Partners documents to the State Auditor and the Clarion-Ledger in 2014 while she was employed as a secretary by DJP.  Reporter Jerry Mitchell had a field day and garnered several front page headlines for his scoop.  However,  the media has not reported that DJP and its former employee have been facing off in several courtrooms. 

Downtown Jackson Partners sued Linda Brune on December 10, 2014 in Madison County Court for allegedly embezzling $40,439.  The lawsuit also states she was "terminated on July 25, 2014 for sharing confidential corporate information with a reporter from the Clarion-Ledger."   Ms. Brune is a resident of Madison County.

The complaint states that Ms. Brune worked as DJP's administrative assistant for several years prior to her termination.  She was allowed to "fill out" checks but did not have signature authority.  DJP alleges that she "embezzled 38 check instruments representing a total sum of $40,439" by making checks payable to herself and "forging Mr. Allen's signature on each of the checks." She would then allegedly alter the payee's name on the bank statements by "whiting out" (no racism intended)  her name and replacing it with the name of a vendor. She would then allegedly copy the altered statement so evidence of the whiteout would not appear.  The complaint charges her with several counts of fraud, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment.  DJP asked for damages and attorney's fees.  Attorney Sam Begley represents DJP.

Ms. Brune filed her answer on January 12, 2015.   It contains the standard denials one usually sees in an answer to a complaint.  She accused DJP of filing the lawsuit in Madison County due to unfavorable publicity in Hinds COunty . She replied:

"Defendant was given no reason for termination after 17 years of employment with him at the City Council and at Downtown Jackson Partners.  Moreover, nothing should be confidential at DJP as they are funded by tax dollars and open to examination of all documents.  Mr. Allen's misuse i.e. giving money to those in his favor, laundering money for various organizations, giving checks to his son's friends for non-existent events to be held to promote Jackson totaling $10,000 plus dollars. 

She argues that any funds withdrawn from DJP accounts were delivered directly to Mr. Allen.  She claims she was "loyal to a fault" and doesn't have the money to "reimburse his slush fund."  Nothing else was filed in the case after Ms. Brune submitted her answer.  The case was assigned to Judge Steve Ratcliff.  However, the voters promoted Judge Ratcliff to Circuit Judge so it is not yet clear which judge will assume this case.  Ms. Brune represents herself.

However, DJP also opposed her attempt to obtain unemployment benefits.  Ms. Brune applied for unemployment benefits upon her termination.  A hearing was held before an administrative law judge on October 1, 2014 (see. p.14 below).  DJP told MDES that it had hired a private investigator who found Ms. Brune communicated with the newspaper through her DJP email account and provided copies of DJP documents to the newspaper in violation of company policy.  MDES said her intentional violation of company policy was sufficient grounds for her termination and denial of benefits.  The hearing officer stated that the communications with the newspaper - not the State Auditor- were what got her fired.  

Ms. Brune appealed the decision in Hinds County Circuit Court in October 2014 and sued MDES and Downtown Jackson Partners.  She is again representing herself.  The case was assigned to Judge Winston Kidd.  MDES moved to transfer the case to Madison County.  State law mandates such suits be filed where the petitioner resides.  Ms. Brune lives in Ridgland.  She argued the offices of Mr. Allen and DJP's lawyer were closer to the Hinds County Courthouse than the courthouse in Canton.  However, it was MDES that filed the motion to transfer.  She argued she was fired for cooperating with the State Auditor.  Judge Kidd approved the change of venue last month. 


Anonymous said...

Someone please tell me where you can cash a check where the name on it has been whitened out.

Anonymous said...

It reads the statements, not the checks, were "whited out". I read it that the checks were payable to her, then whited out on the bank statement.

Anonymous said...

I smell coverup.

Anonymous said...

Read it again, JPS grad.

The allegation is that the checks were written out to Linda Brune. When the bank statement crossed her desk the next month, she "whited out" her name and wrote in the name of "XYZ Vendor" (a neat trick in itself), and filed a copy of that statement (so the white-out would not show). No one else at JPS ever saw the original statement with her name on it.

This case should take about ten minutes to solve. Get the cancelled checks from the bank. If the check number for "XYZ Vendor" in the DJP statement files says "Pay to the Order of Linda Brune" on the original check itself, she should be looking at jail time, and the rest of this circus will fade away (whether her claims about Ben have any validity or not).

Anonymous said...

But if her claim that the cash was delivered to Allen in order to avoid DJP internal controls has validity then that is a different ballgame.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what story is true, what kind of idiot would cash checks to him/her self AND THEN give the money over to his/her boss? Any fool would know that this action will set you up to be the patsy in the future, if caught. I can't believe anyone would do that.

Anonymous said...

"Reporter Jerry Mitchell had a field day and garnered several front page headlines for his scoop" - that is so Jerry and so Clarion Ledger. Never let the facts stand in the way of a dramatic headline.

Be gentle on Ben said...

When you point your finger at someone else, 3 fingers are pointing back at you

Anonymous said...

And Jerry's great investigative work relied on the documents given him by an apparent thief. Stole documents. Stole money. Thief. Great background work Jerry. And while I am at it I wonder why he didn't run with this story months ago ??

Anonymous said...

Shoot-the-messenger. That has always been Ben's modus.

Anonymous said...

What came first, her termination or her release of DJP documents?

Anonymous said...

Are the criminal complaints against the former employee filed by DJP and Trustmark Bank public documents?

Anonymous said...

Only question is how many crooks and really bad run organization. First just shut down DJP and then sort out how may get sent to jail.

Anonymous said...

Is this woman a lawyer?

Anonymous said...

6:23: No, she's not....but either way, she's clearly an idiot for representing herself!

whining and dining said...

IRS always want paid.

So WHO IRS want paid from?

Someone or someones got tax free money or all these lawsuits be lies.

So? WHO IRS want paid from?

Also what place don't review and match up documents, let same person with check book get bank statements? Checks all need to match statements, statements need to match bank balance and match bookwork,
all this chit serious bidness. They'se rules and whatnot!

Who in charge of what, can anyone else get mail and open it, or really wtf on all this.

Anonymous said...

Reading what I am reading, she looks like an idiot period.

Hedge Row said...

"So? WHO IRS want paid from?"

What the hell does that mean? Should you really be allowed to use the computer down at the home?

Anonymous said...

If she is representing herself now, will she do this when DJP follows up on their lawsuit? This should get ugly UGLY for her. Hope she can afford some good lawyers. If she stole money, this will be easy to prove. Could transfer into criminal territory, then prison I would think.

trying to read between the lines said...

Seems like the parties claim either the lady with the whiteout or the hmfic got cash from checks.

"So? WHO IRS want paid from?" seems to ask who the IRS is looking to for unreported income and unpaid taxes. Your mileage may vary.

Anonymous said...

methinks Mr Ben's in deep do-do.

Anonymous said...

Man, that complaint looks like it was drafted by a first year law student.

Anonymous said...

Most of what I have read is inaccurate. The lady is well represented and the truth will stun you. This entire story was fabricated to focus the attention away from Allen.

Anonymous said...

Yeah 12:48. Right. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

As a poor typist, I used white out rather a lot.
So, she managed to white out and then type or write in the name of a company on the check so it looked the same after two copies and no one could tell " on the bank statement". That's the story?
My electronic statement from my bank can't be altered or printed ( even if it could, the set up is such that altering it would be impossible given the colors and fonts).
My bank also sends a paper statement. Every page of my paper bank statement has a large colored, shadowed logo behind the check list. And, the paper is not white except around the borders as a lighter shade of the logo color is in a rectangle behind the transaction list.
The fonts available to me aren't the fonts used by the bank and there are symbol patterns as well. The logo shadowed behind the check list are a color as are the top logos and the color hues vary slightly. The copies of the checks that come with my bank's statement are much smaller and elongated so as to distort the check. And, my statement has punch holes.
I suspect my bank does this so that forgeries can be noticed if I'm not given the original.
What bank does DJP's use? It's obviously not my bank as you just couldn't pull this off.
How the hell do you do this with white out? Is there an accomplice at the bank providing her with the bank's paper and access to their printer?
I might not think I needed a lawyer for this one...only an original bank statement and a challenge for the other side to show how this was done.

Anonymous said...

If Ben let somone steal $40k under his nose he should be fired but if he was part of it he should do time. Either way he should have been gone a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Po' Ben always is the victim. Just because his board supports him doesn't mean he's supported inside the BID.

Riddle Me That said...

"I use white out rather a lot". Another in a series of stupid sentences. Where do these people learn the art of sentence structure?

Anonymous said...

Riddle Me, it reads, "... I used white out rather a lot". You left off the " d". The words " white out" are a noun for a generic product, not a verb. That is perfectly acceptable. Do you see " orange juice" as an adjective and a noun rather than as a noun and not see it as singular?

By the way, your second sentence doesn't have a verb. A sentence requires a subject and a verb.

And, apparently, you are among those who don't know that " attacking the messenger" rather than the message is a sign of weakness.

Anonymous said...

I think the crux of this is whether BA's signature on the checks made out to her were his or forged. As I read, she had no authority to sign checks, and they claim she forged his on the checks made out to her. Shouldn't be that hard to determine.

Singular Orange Juice said...

6:38; You haven't been in these parts long enough, apparently, to know that you people who get ankle-deep off in the ditch of correcting syntax are viewed as slovenly and unproductive. Diagram that, maroon.

Anonymous said...

If you can understand what another poster is talking about you shouldn't complain about it. If you can not understand what another poster is talking about you have no reason to complain.

Anonymous said...

7:54 - glad to know all about 'your' bank. Mine doesn't look a bit like that. Would you like me to post four paragraphs on what my bank statement looks like? Would it have a damn thing to do with this discussion, since we don't know if "your" bank and DJP's bank have anything to do with each other.

Thanks, though. Glad to know how great your bank statement looks.

Kingfish said...

Mitchell still has not reported any of this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Mitchell is a dick.

Anonymous said...

Jerry's first name is Richard?

Anonymous said...

4:32 pm If your bank statement doesn't have anything behind the list of deposits and withdrawals and your checks are simply miniaturized, you should be worried about security.
What I describe can be accomplished in more than one way, but your statement should not be at risk of being so easily altered.
No one should be able to white out anything on a bank statement and simply recopy it in this day and age!
I specifically described mine to give an example. I did not suggest that all bank statements look the same.
Try to pay attention and look more closely at yours. If it really has no built in protection ( which I doubt) change banks!

Anonymous said...

Five will make you ten. Whoever stole money will end up in jail. All this whiteout stuff is irrelevant. Whoever got it by hook or crook is toast. That is a lot of dinero.

4:32 and my bank statement said...

7:14, the point of my comment was that it doesnt matter a damn what your bank statement looks like - the one in question here is that of DJP. This great description of yours has nothing to do with the issue.

And yes, my bank statement only has a miniturized copy of the check, and that doesn't have anything to do with the price of eggs either. But I am perfectly happy with the security of my bank statement, thank you though.

Anonymous said...

It doesnt matter a damn if you are perfectly happy with the security of your bank statement. This expression of satisfaction of yours has nothing to do with the issue.

Anonymous said...

I think that was his point. His, nor the earlier, bank statements have a damn thing to do with the point. The issue was that the so-called whistleblower is accused of having screwed around with DJP's statements - 7:54's long winded discussion of his/her statement was totally irrelevant to the conversation.

Anonymous said...

This lady may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but we must remember that she is still a female. A female that has been with B. Allen long enough to know where all the bodies are hidden. The worst thing one can do it screw over a woman and her livelihood when she knows all of your shenanigans. Hell has no fury like woman that has been totally screwed. When they denied her Unemployment, they TOTALLY screwed her. And she will make sure they pay for it. Women will throw everything out there where they fell they have been screwed. She will take her penalty, but I guarantee you that when you finishes with him his penalty will be greater. He pushed her to a point of not caring at all. And women remember everything. Especially when they are unemployed with nothing but time on their hands. He messed up BIG time on this one. He better get prepared.

Anonymous said...

Why did you fail to mention that this case against the lady has been before the Grand Jury and no evidence of wrongdoing was found. It was "No Billed" in September of 2015. SHE wasn't the one who was indicted.

Kingfish said...

Good question. Didn't know. I get the no-bills every few months and post them. I'll look this one up or go to the courthouse and check. Thanks. This story was about the civil lawsuits.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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