Thursday, March 8, 2018

State Auditor demands CMU Commissioners repay nearly $100,000 in personal legal fees.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering issued the following statement.

Stacey Pickering Releases Issues Almost $100k of Demands to Canton Municipal Utilities Commissioners

JACKSON, Miss. – Today, OSA Special Agents presented civil demands to five current members of the Canton Municipal Utilities Board of Commissioners. Cleotha Williams, Charles Weems, L.C. Slaughter, Charles Morgan, and Cleveland Anderson were all served demands of $19,192.77, each. The total amount for the demands against the commissioners is $95,963.85, which includes principle, interest, and investigative costs.

The demands are related to Canton Municipal Utilities commissioners spending public funds to pay personal legal fees during a time they were not serving on the Canton Municipal Utilities Board of Commissioners.

The case will be delivered to the Attorney General of Mississippi for civil suit if the subjects of the demand do not respond within thirty days.


Kingfish note: JJ uncovered the payments and reported them on January 30: 

Time stands still at Canton Municipal Utilities as the company paid old legal fees for CMU Commissioners even though the statute of limitations for paying invoices had expired.

This edition of As CMU Turns began in 2013 when Canton Alderman Les Penn moved at a Board of Aldermen meeting to remove CMU Commissioners Landers Cheeks,  Cleotha Williams, Shoney Harris, and L.C. Slaughter.  The fired Commissioners sued the city of Canton in Madison County Circuit Court and lost.  Judge William Chapman ruled in 2015 that the removal was not arbitrary and capricious but was supported by evidence that the Aldermen had legitimate concerns about the operation of the public utility.

Cheeks and his merry band of rejects also sued for an injunction in Madison County Circuit Court in a separate lawsuit.  The court denied the petition for an injunction.  The losers didn't take no for an answer but appealed to the Court of Appeals, lost, and appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court where they lost again.   It is now time to read a JJ-issued program so as to keep all the players straight.

Attorneys Ellis Turnage and Adrienne Wooten represented the deposed Commissioners in the first lawsuit.   Ed Blackmon and Ellis Turnage represented the plaintiffs in the petition for the injunction.  Adrienne Wooten represented Landres Cheeks as well.   They lost every round in court.

However, the CMU board approved paying the legal fees of these commissioners even though CMU was not a party to the lawsuits and the commissioners were private citizens when the lawsuits were filed.  The judge did not award attorney's fees to the plaintiffs since they lost.  However, the CMU Board of Commissioners voted to pay the claims docket at the March 7, 2017 and March 21 meetings that included payments of  $85,662 to attorneys Ellis Turnage, Adrienne Wooten, and Tamekia Goliday.*  CMU issued the checks on the same day as the approval of the claims docket.   Ms. Wooten and Ms. Goliday submitted invoices for work performed in 2013.  Mr. Turnage billed for work from 2013 to 2015.  It should be noted that Commissioners Slaughter and Williams voted on paying the claims docket even though it included payments to their personal attorneys who represented them in the Canton lawsuits.  However, this is Canton where laws and ethics are suspended.

The invoices state that most of the billed work was performed in 2013.  Ms. Wooten's invoice that her work was last performed on July 31, 2013 while Ms. Goliday's invoice states was last performed on July 12, 2013.  Mr. Turnage billed for 231 hours but 97 hours were billed after March 7, 2014 so the payment for those hours fell within the three-year statute of limitations although 134 hours were billed after the statute of limitations expired.

 *Here are the invoiced amounts:

Wooten: $11,550
Goliday: $4,120
Turnage: $69,992

Read more at this earlier post.   The invoices are published in that post as well.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally. Hopefully just the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, Charles Weems is deceased

Anonymous said...

The Blackmons demanded that these bills be paid. Don’t the have liability? Kingfish?

Anonymous said...

Great work Fish

Anonymous said...

So, the money was illegally paid out of CMU funds. Why is there NO apparent liability by the recipient? What if one of these CMU members managed to pay himself illegally with CMU board approval? Would the recipient in this case only be liable for one fifth of the money and each other member also obligated for one fifth each? There has to be a lot more to this story!

Anonymous said...

Kingfish is the only investigative reporter in Jackson!! Wlbt, wapt and wjtv oh and the CL and Journal are all lazy as sh**! Kingfish saw the smoke coming from CMU and looked into it! Thank you Kingfish. Take notes the rest of you flunkies in the media business. This is only the beginning!!!

Anonymous said...

JJ, what about the lawyers who billed CMU those invoices? So, you mean to tell that they will not be held liable? They will not have to pay any of those monies back?

Anonymous said...

1208 - like it or not, the lawyers performed a service for their clients. The clients chose to get the public body to expend public funds for payment. The 'crime' was not so much in the lawyers bills (which while excessive and inefficient, we're not the crime) but in the board agreeing to spend public - CMU - dollars for personal expenses. Auditor's only authority deals with the appropriate use of public dollars, which they are demanding be repaid. In my opinion, the board members should require the individuals who benefited from the illegal payments to pay the auditor's demands. But that's a different lawsuit, and not the interest of the auditor.

Anonymous said...

12:13 - Surely you don't believe there is liability in the presentation of an invoice/bill. They billed whoever they were told would be responsible for paying the bill.

Anonymous said...

Pickering's office actually printed "principle" instead of "principal". I guess it's the principle of the whole ordeal.

Anonymous said...

State Auditor vs CMU
Rudy vs CMU (lawsuit)
MCWA vs CMU (lawsuit)

Also Brian Finnegan and then Kenny Wayne Jones versus CMU for dismissals.

Lots of turmoil up there.

Anonymous said...

Nothing about the rings and credit card purchases?

Anonymous said...

The Fishter is a powerful jouralistic investigator and a bright light shining on corruption. He caught my attention when he investigated the MS Valley Title case several years ago. He does the heavy lifting and then the government gets involved to grab the glory. CMU/Warnock/Malachi/Airwaves... as a taxpayer, i appreciate the effort to root these crooks out.

Anonymous said...

Lanny slaughter is a straight up crook! He lead the charge at MCEDA to hire Rudy for the airport project! Investigators need to look into his personal accounts! He is skimming professional services...........

Anonymous said...

Deep shoe leather enterprise level reporting.

Anonymous said...

12:40 - I would bet that the attorney's presented the bills to their clients, who then 'transferred' them to CMU when they went back into office. Either way, don't think the attorneys are liable. BUT, once the board members' insurance bonds pay out the claim - which I assume they will have to - I would hope that the insurance company would lay claim against the individuals who benefited by having CMU pay their personal legal bills.

And, CMU attorney's E&O / malpractice insurance might come into play as well, assuming she recommended paying of these claims.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't anyone being charged with malfeasance/fraud of public funds? I guess our Attorney General and Pickering don't get along, or Hood is somewhere sitting on the floor sucking his thumb hoping he doesn't have actually make a case to defend or go after anyone. What a useless waste of space Hood is.

Anonymous said...

Rudy sure has been quiet lately, too quiet. This is the first time I've seen his name brought up quite a while.

Anonymous said...

Warnock is tearing that CMU ass up! Keep exposing them Rudy.

Anonymous said...

The Blackmons advises the CMU Commissioners to pay the bills!! Then Turnage paid the blackmons their share of the legal fees. Blackmon then took that money and put it in their account!!!!! Pay attention FBI

Anonymous said...

If Barbara Blackmon told Lanny Slaughter and Cleotha William to “eat her shit*” they would do it. Is this really the kind of leadership we need in Canton? Nissan Wake Up......

Anonymous said...

Now we know why our utility bills are so dang high out here in Lake Caroline. Where is the PSC? We need help. They are robbing us blind.

Anonymous said...

Rudy is responsible to shining a bright light on canton corruption. They fired his butt and he is trying to take down the establishment. His new office is located on West Countyline Rd in the FBI building.

Anonymous said...

Who is looking into the Blackmon residency issue? Living in Jackson and representing Canton.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish what is going on with the credit card extortion by cmu? Not hearing a word.

Anonymous said...

These crooks are using our utility bill money to pay their own private bills and the State Auditor considers this a civil matter?????? That’s some BS. Who paid Stacey off to make this a civil matter? Think about it neighbors in Lake Caroline and Panther Creek. They took your money and used it to pay their personal expenses and our State Auditor considers this a civil (minor) deal. This is the problem with Stacey, he is a lightweight! We need a new state auditor! One that understands criminal vs civil. Kingfish I challenge you to put up a pole today asking your readers if they consider this stunt by cmu Civil or Criminal.

Anonymous said...

This pisses me off! As a rate payer in Canton I think these commissioners should resign!! Or our elected officials at city hall should fire them! This will be a test for our elected Alderman and Mayor. The business community is watching you to see if you are looking after us!

Anonymous said...

Civil? I think not! Stacey got this all wrong.

Anonymous said...

Why can they not be criminally charged. Hell Ben Allen was regarding a $1700 cell phone for his wife, that he been paid in advance? WTF?

Anonymous said...

@4:03 some of your problems have gone away. Neither John Noble nor Charles Weems are on the board anymore. The issue is that the problems they caused have been replaced by even more problems. I can tell you that Earnest Buttross and Miriam Buttross did the right thing for CMU. But Noble, Weems, and all of the others were/are con-artists. Sigh.......

Anonymous said...

Stacey Pickering just wants to "appear" that he cares about doing justice, or that he's doing something about it, but without actually having to get his hands dirty.....just like his famous uncle.....Judge Charles Pickering....another scumbag from Oxford....who couldn't quite get confirmed because of just too many enemies. Pickering had better do something of substance besides "report" wrongdoing. He is law-enforcement....but he's about as limp a noodle as Jeff Sessions.

Anonymous said...

Civil is all the Auditor can do. AG/ DA need to bring criminal charges.

Anonymous said...

Who is looking into the Blackmon residency issue? Living in Jackson and representing Canton.

The first step is to challenge Babs and Ed at the Democratic Party executive committee level. Unless there is a Sam Begley up there strong enough to withstand the inevitable heat I don't think anyone is going to step up to that.

Anonymous said...

PSC does not control city utilities. This is left to the voters.Never should have been in the power and light business any way. Just bought and resold for a profit.That was always a scam.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:42pm Understood.....but aren't these bozos talking to one another. Mississippi corruption continues for decades because nobody's head ever rolls.....

Anonymous said...

what's the deal fish? take all kinds of comments about the Blackmans, and Pickering, but won't post any comments questioning the work (or lack thereof) of the Treasurer?

Kingfish said...

You seem to think you have the right to dump trash whenever and wherever you feel like doing so. I forgot to turn off the comments on that one as it's a paid advertisement. Comments generally aren't allowed on advertisements. Sorry we can't accommodate your Fitch fetish.

Anonymous said...

Stacey is enabling corruption by allowing CMU to get away with this.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Truly is a real,problem. And these guys like Eric Gilkey are ruining the city. The black CMU board members are incompetent and in it for themselves and their buddies. However, the white folks in Canton want to hold the black aldermen and black CMU board members accountable, but won't do the same for their own color. They refused to hold Weems and Noble accountable because they were friends with them. And Weems and Noble are as bad as they come. A lot of CMU's problems can be laid at their feet. Tomorrow around the coffee shop and around Chandler-O'Cain barbershop, the white citizens will be talking about how honest Weems and Noble and Morgan were, and blaming it all on the black folks. And that's why they are going downhill. If you want to change it, you have to hold the responsible people accountable. But Noble's wife has a nice zebra tent in the Grove, so he can get away with anything. And Weems was a piece of work.

Anonymous said...

What a cluster.

Anonymous said...


Pretty damn good reporting.

Unfortunately, the homeboys will never pay the demands, because they don't pay their bills

Anonymous said...

This will end up in court and no one is going to pay a penny, but the lawyers will get paid again. If pick was really looking for a headline he should look at Pelahactice and Pearl.

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to ask John Noble (ex-CMU board member) about his connections to Roberts Insurance and also to Terry Lovelace and Claude Banks (Karl's son).

Anonymous said...

Who is this John Noble whose name keeps popping up? Why do responders on this web site apparently dislike him?

Anonymous said...

"In my opinion, the board members should require the individuals who benefited from the illegal payments to pay the auditor's demands. But that's a different lawsuit, and not the interest of the auditor."

You're certainly entitled to it, but I strongly disagree with it. "The individuals who benefited" are not the real culprits in this scenario. Whoever authorized payment using public moneys...they are where the real liability rests.

People who walk past the cookie jar all day and even enjoy a cookie or two when they're placed on the break-room table are not guilty of raiding the jar. Whoever has the key to the cookie-jar and decides it's to be used for personal gain, that's where you slap on the cuffs.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between 'who benefited' and 'the real culprits' - although some of the players in each group are the same.

I agree, the culprits are the board members who illegally spent the money. That's why Pickering is going after them.

But those board members did not 'benefit' - unless they were also the clients of the illegally paid lawyers.

I in no way suggest that the 'culprits' shouldn't be held responsible and be forced to repay the cookie jar. But the beneficiaries of this crime, the clients of the lawyers who didn't have to pay the legal bill they personally incurred and passed on - thru hook or crook - to the CMU ratepayers, should not get off Scott free.

Anonymous said...

In the end, everybody gets paid. The lawyers got paid, the courtroom reporter got paid, the judge received his salary, the deputies got paid for standing around, the clients got a benefit. The insurance company will pay for the misuse of public funds and Pickering's penalty fund will be paid. Then it will be up to the insurance company to sue for recovery. No?

Somebody should still go to jail and that should probably be the Blackmons. But that's tougher than jailing people named Kennedy.

Anonymous said...

Somebody on the inside turned them in. Blackman probably has been collecting money from CMU for years. I doubt he identified the work as for "recovering expenses for CMU board members getting their jobs back," My bet is that there is a disgruntled (ex) employee or (ex) board member involved.

Anonymous said...

This will be a big test for Hood. Will he go after these criminals like he should OR will he cut a deal with Blackmons for a nice “campaign contribution”. We are watching Hood!

Anonymous said...

@8:59am; they are the clients of the illegally paid lawyers. Blackmon got some of that money too that they paid Turnage!

Anonymous said...

Blackmon got the money illegally sent to him, but he gets to keep it. He should pay back the money which he could tell was "stolen." At that point, he should go after each of the individuals separately for his recovery. Why is the state auditor doing Blackmon's job for him at the expense of the state? (we know why)

Anonymous said...

And the leaders of our state wonder why our children are moving out of state as fast as possible after graduation. Wake up! The parents who are in charge of our state leadership are running Mississippi into the ground. Mississippi is a pay to play state with NO consequences! So sad for our children. Shame on you Stacey, Jim Hood and Phil Bryant.

Anonymous said...

"Never accuse a black politician of fraud, graft or thievery unless your county has a white population of at least 70%"

Anonymous said...

@7:46pm. Hello Barbara Blackmon. How is life living in Jackson while representing Canton. Fraud is a term you should research.

Anonymous said...

Press needs to start covering CMU! Yes that means you too Jim Prince! You didn’t even report this week about the CMU scandal. I guess Mary didn’t give you permission to cover CMU.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the press will do their jobs and start covering CMU.

Anonymous said...

@9:16am. Is that a joke? CMU has the press on the payroll too. Especially that Jerry Loustou At WMGO.

Anonymous said...

"@7:46pm. Hello Barbara Blackmon. How is life living in Jackson while representing Canton. Fraud is a term you should research."

I'm 7:46 and am arguably the whitest guy on this blog site. The point I'm making is it does absolutely NO good for any of us to bitch and moan about black fraud, graft, thievery, incompetence, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance or shenanigans UNLESS your county or municipality is at least 70% white and can vote it out.

They got their turn at the vault, the jobs and the benefits...sit back for the ride.

Anonymous said...

@9:50am. I am totally disgusted with this. My family has been serving in the military for many decades to defend our freedom. Freedom does not mean using the public’s money to pay your private bills. Does Stacey or Jim Hood even care about this? How can this be civil? These men knowingly placed their private bills on the public’s tab and paid it!!! How is that not criminal. Making this Civil is like a slap in the face to the residents in canton who are paying these bills. Civil?? Not even close, this is criminal, and if our AG feels different then he is bought and paid for too. Stacey you are pathetic calling this civil.

Anonymous said...

Blackmons are laughing at the CMU commissioners. I bet they sit around drinking high dollar wine laughing at how stupid the CMU commissioners are. Saying, “hey look what I can get those clown to pay.”

Anonymous said...

@2:56pm you are so right. They partying hard tonight at Char. Barbara telling her friends how she got “pull” with General Hood. So sad.

Anonymous said...

1:41, Warnock billed for millions with little to show for it. Espy is tied up in those shenanigans too.

Anonymous said...

Where is the DA Michael Guest? You know,the guy running for Congress. He is as bad as Hood who always looks the other way at public corruption.

Anonymous said...

Take it from an employee at CMU, the Blackmon’s are running CMU. They direct daily activities, ANY and ALL expenditures, they decide who gets hired, who gets fired, all transfer requests, etc. they control through the 3 Commissioners they had picked; Issac Jackson, Cleotha Williams and Lanny Slaughter. These 3 commissioners have handed CMU over to Ed and Barbara Blackmon. The uncovering of these expenditures relating to their legal fees is just the tip!! They have paid MANY MANY MANY MANY personal bills that should have never been charged to the rate payers. When we at CMU have questioned putting flagrant expenses on the claims docket we are told, “don’t question the leadership, if you don’t like our decisions then go get another job”. My husband says I should keep my mouth shut and stay out of it. I’m saddened to see my hometown being destroyed by these selfish people. I pray to god that someone out there will help.

Anonymous said...

@10:54 don't you worry. Your good buddies Charles Weems and John Noble handed CMU over to Rudy Warnock (he and Weems were real TIGHT) and now the Blackmons. So the Blackmons are running it along with the 3 black commissioners you named. But the Blackmons and their cronies didn't take it. Instead Weems and Noble just handed it to them.

Anonymous said...

@3:09pm. Apparently you dont know that John Noble hates Rudy. The only thing John Noble would give him is a swift kick in teeth. Warnock wa brought in by Cleveland Anderson & company.

Anonymous said...

This is simple: Blackmon recommended CMU pay Turnage & Co. CMU paid them and the Barbara went around picking up her share of what CMU paid Turnage & Co. Pay attention FBI

Anonymous said...

@12.58 you haven't witnessed what I've witnessed. Keep kidding yourself that Noble and Weems were saints.

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