Tuesday, January 31, 2017

D.A. recommended no bill for DJP secretary

Note: This case has never been reported by Jerry Mitchell. 

An investigative file submitted as an exhibit in the Downtown Jackson Partners lawsuit provides more information on the organization's efforts to prosecute its former secretary. DJP sued Linda Brune for damages caused by her alleged embezzlement of over $43,000. However, Ms. Bruine is a witness in the trial of her former boss, Ben Allen, that is currently taking place in Hinds County Circuit Court. Mr. Allen was indicted on ten counts of embezzlement from DJP.

Ms. Brune did not appear in Madison County Court and a default judgment was issued against her. Ms. Brune filed a motion to set aside the default judgement and included an exhibit that was a copy of the investigative file of her case. DJP accused her of embezzling and stealing records. DJP tried to file charges with JPD. However, the grand jury refused to indict her and a detective said the case was flawed. The District Attorney also said that the State Auditor and Attorney General gave her whistleblower protection and DJP was trying to retaliate against her by filing criminal charges.

The exhibit shines a light on what was going on behind the scenes as the two sides tried to prosecute each other. Some highlights from the exhibit are:

* The State Auditor's Chief Investigator, David Huggins, sent a letter to Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith on May 13, 2015 stating that Ms. Brune received whistleblower protection on March 20, 2014.  Ironically, Mr. Smith obtained an indictment against Mr. Huggins last year for obstruction of justice in this case. (p.1)

*The Hinds County grand jury refused to indict Ms. Brune for embezzlement.  The D.A. wrote that the case was retaliation for whistleblowing. (p.2)

*Ben Allen gave a statement to JPD (p.7):

*However, the police report states Trustmark Bank did not corroborate all of the accusations:

The complaint which was filed at Trustmark  National Bank on September 2, 2014 , alleged  that on three  separate dates employee Linda Brune forged Mr. Allen's signature on three separate checks belonging  to the Downtown Jackson Partners.  According  to the bank affidavit,  allegedly on the date of 04/21/2014,   Linda Brune endorse check  number 0006 for the  sum of $1,844.00 to herself and forged Ben Allen's name at the bottom of this check. On 05/19 /20 I 4, Linda Brune allegedly endorsed check number 0005 for the sum of $1,914.00 to herself and forged Ben Allen's name at the bottom of this check.   On 06/04/20 14,  Linda    Brune allegedly endorsed check number 0006 to herself for the sum of $800.00 and forged Ben Allen's name at the bottom of this    check. However,  Eddie Toombs explained  his investigation  did not substantiate  this complaint.  Furthermore,  Mr. Toombs explained that the Downtown Jackson Partners failed to report this alleged crime within the allowed sixty day period as it is outline in Trustmark affidavit policy therefore, he was not going to authorized any repayment of funds which  the Downtown Jackson Partners alleged they lost. (p.26)

*Another police report (p.27) provides more statements from Mr. Allen on October 31, 2014:

Mr. Allen stated the embezzlement was discovered after being contacted on July 18, 2014, by a Jackson Clarion Ledger news reporter name Jerry Mitchell. Mr. Allen said on July 21, 2014, he scheduled a formal interview with Jerry Mitchell in reference to speaking with him about up coming events scheduled for the Downtown area. How ever, Mr. Allen said at the start of this interview, he quickly realized by the type of questions Jen-y Mitchell was eluding to, someone from within the Downtown Jackson Partners organization had leak sensitive information to the media about the operation business of the Downtown Jackson Partners. Mr. Allen said Jerry Mitchell questioned him about the title of a vehicle and events associated with the Downtown Jackson Partners which expanded the years of 2014 through 2009.  Mr. Allen said someone within his organization, was giving the media information about their  business secrets and payroll information. Mr. Allen said on July 23, 2014, he had a meeting with his staff to inform them about the leaking of information coming out of his organization. Mr. Allen said on July 25, 2014, John Gomez reviewed their employees company email's from their company computer where he discovered that Ben's Allen Executive Assistant Linda Brune was  the person leaking information to the media .  Ben Allen said after speaking with the board President of the Downtown Partners David Watkins , they immediately that day, terminated Linda Brune employment with the Downtown Jackson Partners.
Mr. Allen said after the termination of Linda Brune several acts which she committed, proceeded to reveal itself. Mr. Allen explained the first thing they discovered was that Linda Brune removed confidential files for their office. Mr. Allen said on August 28, 2014, his assistant John Gomez, asked him did he write a check to Linda Brune for $800.00 dollars. Mr. Allen said John Gomez only inquired about the check after being contacted by someone from the forgery division at Trustmark National Bank. Mr. Allen said he didn't write Linda Brune a check for $800.00. Mr. Allen said the check was written on June 15 or 16 2014, and his name was forged on the check as the endorser to Linda Brune. Mr. Allen said this lead to an detail audit of their business accounts at Trustmark National Bank in which they discovered as far back as 2009, Linda Brune had been embezzling funds from a bank account belonging to the Downtown Jackson Partners . Mr. Allen said they learned that Linda Brune was writing checks and fabricating his signature on them. Mr. Allen said some of the checks were written out to Linda Brune which she cashed at Trustmark Bank and some were deposit into her personal bank account at State Bank & Trust.
*A December 22, 2014 police report states attorney Dennis Sweet represented Ms. Brune. Mr. Sweet told JPD he would not allow his client to give any statements concerning DJP since it might violate the terms of her whistleblower protection. (p.30)

*JPD states in a report that the evidence was inconclusive.  The report also states Ms. Brune was assisted by attorney John Reeves.

Even after examining the entire bank records of the Downtown Jackson Partners from 2009 through 2014, this detective could not definitely substantiate  Mr. Allen's criminal complaint because of inclusive evidence.   Furthermore, during the scope of this investigation , it was revealed  to this detective, that as far back as March 20, 2014, five months prior to Ben Allen filing a criminal complaint on behalf of the Downtown Jackson Partners against Linda Brune, I discovered that she had (Whistleblower Status) against any retaliation from the Downtown  Jackson  Partners.  On  11 /26/20 I 4, a local Jackson  attorney name John Arthur Reeves verbally confirmed that he was the attorney who help negotiate a deal between the State of Mississippi Attorney General Office and his previous client Linda  Brune in receiving Whistlcblower status in a cooperation with a investigation  surrounding the Jackson  Downtown  Partners. On 12/22/20.14, this_ detective made contact with Attorney Dennis C. Sweet who presented me a copy of a letter from the Office of the State Auditor/ Stacey E. Pickering which clearly states that Linda Brune has had Whistlcblower Status since March 20, 2014 furthermore, on 12 / 23 /1 4, this fact was confirmed  through speaking with a representative from the State Auditor's  law enforcement  division.   On 12/24/14, this detective spoke with  Mrs. Linda Brune , who said  on the advice of her attorney  Dennis C. Sweet, she cannot give a statement  in reference to the criminal  complaint  tiled against  her because it would    disrupt her status as a Whistleblower by the
Office of the State Attorney General. Finally, after representatives from Trustmark National Bank evaluated this complaint,  they decided  not to  pursue any criminal  charges against  Linda Brune.

*A list of checks are presented on pages 34-45.

*A security guard also stated that she saw Ms. Brune remove several boxes of documents on July 4, 2014.  (p.60)


Anonymous said...

It seems that Lady Justice has removed her blindfold in Hinds County.

Anonymous said...

Just do not understand. Why would "Whistleblower Status" exempt one from prosecution for embezzlement. Never heard of a 60-day limit on crime. Sometimes embezzlement is not exposed for years and the perpetrator is prosecuted, (at least that is what is reported in the papers).

Anonymous said...

The 60 day limit has nothing to do with 'crime'. KF's comment inserted is somewhat misleading, and the JPD report doesn't properly apply what Tmark said. Having had to try to deal with Tmark on a similar instance before, their answer was -- you didn't report these forged checks to us within 60 days, so therefore we are not going to reimburse your account for the money that they stole, with our assistance, for not having checked the signature on the check against the signature on file.

Their basis, it appears, is that within 60 days you should have noticed illegal checks going thru your account and reported them - that way Tmark could limit its exposure. At the time I reported several thou of checks stolen from my mother's account I was furious, but after thinking about it realized it wasn't an unreasonable policy.

But just because Tmark wasn't going to make the account whole doesn't have a damn thing to do with whether the woman had committed a crime.

What I have learned from this post is -- I need to find me an employer that I can go steal from for several months, and then go get David Huggins, that example of purity from DPS and now OSA, tell him my boss is a crook and get me an exemption from prosecution. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

Anonymous said...

Or, 2:30, if you venture out to the trendy sports bars and eateries at night you can read opinions on the shit walls.

Kingfish said...

Excuse me? The sixty day comment was a direct quote from JPD about Trustmark and was not made by me.

Anonymous said...

They can't stand messengers KF, such as yourself, who show up for work daily.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Brune was an employee of Downtown Jackson Partners,a private corporation. The state’s whistleblower law only protects employees of a department or agency of a state or local government. Miss. Code Ann.§ 25-9-171. Clearly, Ms. Brune is not covered under the statute. Additionally, the whistleblower law applies only to the reporting of an “alleged improper governmental action.” None of the activities of Downtown Jackson Partners are governmental in nature. The decision of the State Auditor to grant Ms. Brune whistleblower status was improper.Ms. Brune has improperly used this whistleblower status to in effect immunize herself from criminal prosecution for embezzlement of funds belonging to Downtown Jackson Partners.

Anonymous said...

Ben Allen was indicted.....by RSS....for embezzling from DJP.

Allen says the lady stole money....but RSS wouldn't prosecute her?

Allen sues the lady in Madison....gets stiff armed.

What is Allen accused of stealing? A 20 year old truck?

Does DJP say Allen took truck? Or just RSS?

Wth is going on here?

Anonymous said...

First, thank you 4:13 for your explanation. Second, 4:40, your "potty mouth" gets tiresome. Thirdly, both 6:49 and 6:57 are saying what I want to say. None of this makes sense to me. Brune took money collected by a special tax on the willing and the unwilling. Is she paying it back? Has she caused harm? Does the law condone this behavior?

Anonymous said...

Before it is OVER what is gonna my on here is an old lady 74 years old next mont is GOING TO PRISON for stealing.#WATCH

Anonymous said...

8:29 NOT happening.

Anonymous said...

9;16 - you may be correct, they might not send her to jail. But, she will be found guilty. Her b/s whistleblower protection given to her by Huggins, himself someone that doesn't know right from wrong, ain't going to cover her butt as she tries to explain those forged checks. Her 'he told me to do it' just doesn't sell when you forge checks - especially when you try to cover up your actions.

The big ass question in this whole deal is just which goose is RSS chasing in this wild chase? DJP members contributing money for the inauguration balls for a crook doesn't make the contributors a crook, or the organization, or its ED. Stupid, maybe, that they got fooled by this idiot of a Mayor, but not illegal. Trying to claim that a private non-profit is the same as government money is a stretch. But -- if for some reason our reasoned jurist Winston Kidd finds Ben guilty, does he qualify for PERS retirement since he has all of a sudden been obviously been found to be a government employee?

My Guess Is.. said...

6:49 - The whistleblower law also applies to government contractors, publicly held corporations, banking institutions and others. It very well could be that the law is interwoven into DJP somehow. Stand by.

Anonymous said...

As if JPD knows or could interpret the whistleblower laws and regulations.

Anonymous said...

I don't personally know any of these people.

Having served on 8 juries , I have quite a bit more faith in their assessments than many of you appear to have. In all but one of those 8 times, the jurors took their duty seriously and tried to follow the facts and law. One was hung by a white male juror who was obviously racist and would not rule in favor of an African American. But, since most want to be treated fairly, they try to be fair.

I don't believe what lawyers or interested parties say to the media. The evidence I heard did not resemble what the media reported in one criminal trial.

I will wait for jurors who have heard testimony under oath and seen actual evidence presented in court.

The timing of the " embezzlement" discovery is rather convenient. Secretaries have , I'm afraid, often been asked to sign a check for their "boss" if he's out of pocket and a bill must be paid. You do it or get fired. Employers have been known to borrow money from secretaries to " pick up something " needed immediately and be reimbursed . If it was a business expense, the boss would want the payment to show up as a business expense.

This is sloppy business but it happens. Or the secretary can take advantage of sloppy business practices and embezzle.

Mr. Allen may well have depreciated the truck to zero and didn't " get" the difference in law when a business is paid with tax dollars. It's his job to know. Or he knew and thought he'd never be caught.

I have heard more than a few brag about cars and office " furnishings" including antiques and art that get depreciated to nothing and " bought" by or transferred to an owner or partner. Sometimes, a fine antique actually stays in the office until the depreciation is complete, but rarely as one can move it back if audited.

This is considered "smart" business by those who have businesses and feel entitled because of their success. Those without the privilege consider it unfair because a zero depreciation doesn't mean the item has zero value. Also, if it then becomes a personal asset, it seems a bit duplicitous to say the least.

If this is what Mr. Allen did without dotting the i's and crossing his t's, I just can't feel too sorry for him.

And, of course, politics is ugly and getting uglier. And, both parties have done a good job in trying to politicize the judicial system and cause citizens to lose faith.

I still believe most of our citizens want justice.

I appreciate KF's fine reporting but the jury is still out and I hope for all parties they are as fair as the Hinds County juries in which I served.

Kingfish said...

The no bill form that was mentioned was actually the D.A.'s recommendation to the grand jury.

Anonymous said...

I read the article summarizing yesterday's activities in the Clarion Ledger. It was eye opening, but of course it was the Clarion Ledger. It is a good read though.

Anonymous said...

this Is a bad joke.....

She stole....now the DA says he stole....

Where did the money go?

Anonymous said...

Don't Brune and Ben Allen go way back before his time at DJP?

Kingfish said...

She was his assistant when he was a City Councilman.

Anonymous said...

One thing people should know for sure. Be very suspicious of any news you get from a newspaper or a news station. They have changed from reporting the news to supporting one side. The good old days of reporting the news is gone. Now every news source is reporting their opinion.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how many days this trial is scheduled for, and how long after that will we know the outcome? Thanks

Anonymous said...

From February 1, 2017 at 7:59 AM
"Or the secretary can take advantage of sloppy business practices and embezzle."
That's the one! Sloppy because of trust in a long business relationship. You think you know someone... Sad how often this kind of thing happens. Don't know how they (in this case, Linda) can sleep at night.

Anonymous said...

Ben's "Lunch" minions posting again. He takes them to lunch and they decide what to post on this site under Ben's direction.

Anonymous said...

8:29 You must know the secretary since you know when her birthday rolls around. Sounds like someone who has access to this information like someone in Ben's circle of jerks.

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