Monday, September 24, 2018

Coahoma Cons Busted in (Alleged) Embezzlement

State Auditor Shad White issued the following statement.

On Friday, Special Agents from the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor delivered demand letters for embezzlement to former Coahoma Community College employees Gwendolyn Jefferson and Stacie Neal. Each demand is for $981,600.64, which includes principal, interest, and investigative costs.

Both Jefferson and Neal conspired to embezzle money from Coahoma Community College by creating false purchase documents and making personal purchases with credit cards and checks belonging to the community college. From 2013-2017, Jefferson and Neal made over $750,000 in purchases from local and online retailers for shoes, watches, a chandelier, and many other items.

This case represents the largest individual demand for embezzlement from the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor in 5 years. The second largest demand amount in the past 5 years was for $362,689.14 and issued to William “Bill” Walker, former Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. This is the third largest individual demand amount for embezzlement issued by this office in over 20 years.

State Auditor Shad White said: “All of the credit for uncovering this massive embezzlement scheme goes to the whistleblowers at the community college and agents in our office. This case involved multiple college procurement cards and a large number of illegal transactions. Our investigators had to plow through college records, which had been falsified by these employees, bank records, and sales records. The end result was over a hundred spreadsheet pages in the investigative file. These employees conspired together, watching each other’s back, to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the students at this community college and the taxpayers.”

After a complex, year-long investigation, Auditor White today delivered the case to District Attorney for the Mississippi 11th District, Brenda Mitchell.

Auditor White said: “I know these two individuals will be held accountable. But around the state, all of our colleges and universities need to draw a lesson. Make sure different people in your procurement offices are responsible for different parts of making purchases. Separation of duties is an important way to prevent fraud. It cannot prevent all conspiracies between multiple people, but it can make those conspiracies harder to pull off. And encourage your employees to speak up if they see something unusual. There are often clues about someone’s lifestyle or a strange way of handling the books that are red flags of embezzlement. Most corruption in America is discovered not through audits but through tips, so speak up.”

Fraud can be reported to the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor online any time by clicking the red button at the top-right corner of the Auditor’s website or via telephone during normal business hours at 1-(800)-321-1275.


Anonymous said...

Next time: Watch Shad White as he lays out a bunch of marbles on the floor and trips the bank robbers trying to escape!

And they would've gotten away with it if it weren't for that kid and his stupid dog!

Anonymous said...

I love y'alls sour grapes about White being appointed at 33, "such a young age." Sorry no one ever thought you were worth appointing to anything 4:18, maybe if you were more of a go-getter.

Anonymous said...

How can a college not miss almost a million dollars?

In the end, you can't get blood out of a turnip.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again........

Attention legislators! Stop this crap !!

Send these 2 fatass thieves to jail and mainly, MAINLY confiscate their PERS accounts!!

Anonymous said...

What kind of chandelier?

Anonymous said...

"How can a college not miss almost a million dollars?"

Pay attention 4:57. The primary lesson of the press conference was to get folks to understand the importance of 'segregation of duties'. When you have the same people drawing up purchase orders, writing checks, using credit cards and buying gift cards to hand out to family members and those people are also doing the internal audits at the institution and certifying the accuracy of accounts and expenditures.....there you have the answer to your question.

These people will go to jail.

Anonymous said...

I honestly didn’t know there was that much money in that decrepit derelict rundown institute that only cares about they football program ..... been there, and that what you get when you have dumahcrats runnin da show

Anonymous said...

"Most corruption in America is discovered not through audits but through tips, so speak up."

-Shad White on his relevance as a State Auditor.

Anonymous said...

I am in the wrong game, this is better than selling my EBT and pain pills combined.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this case will be the tiny crack in the damn that slowly brings to light how the whole system is rotten to the core. As 5:39 asserted, you have hicks and hacks who attend the same churches and provide cover for everyone all the way up to presidents. At least Shad White isn't scared of the BS power structure....hell, the Attorney General is just sitting back and watching when people should be doing perp walks everyday with what's being uncovered. Also, just how much did Stacey Pickering know? He jumped ship and has been protected by Phil Bryant ever since.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere some Mississippi public official is saying “ so they stole over $981,000 huh? Hold my beer”.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anybody is sour about Shad getting the job. He is holding up quite well. But all of these cases were under way for a long time and it is no coincidence that they are all being announced right after him taking office, and just before an election. All orchestrated in case a quality candidate is considering running. Hand it to the machine, they have done a great job making it very hard to challenge him.

Eliot Ness said...

"Never stop fighting until the fight is done!"

Anonymous said...

@7:11, so you know anything about accounting?

Most fraud is discovered by whistleblowers. That’s factual. Fraud perpetrators cover their tracks in a way that an audit wouldn’t discover. That’s why auditors focus segregation of duties and testing internal controls. Fraud committed by one individual would be more easily detectable than fraud committed by various people helping cover each other’s tracks

Anonymous said...

He was on Gallo's show yesterday highlighting this case but not naming it specifically. He said there would be an afternoon press conference, in Clarksdale. Either the previous auditor was asleep at the wheel or left office before any of these recent announcements could be made.

If they give these two thiefs ankle-time only, that will be a travesty.

Look for Mayor Espy and Bennie to stand up for them.

Wiseowl said...

wonder who hired these two? How long has this been going on? I agree with 4:57, how was that much money not missed? Who ratted them out? They must have been living high on the hog like Epps. Wonder what their thought pattern was? They were certainly toooo smart to get caught.

Anonymous said...

Peoples' memories sure are short these days, even Kingfish's. Just over a year ago in this same space (on September 14, 2017), you reported on a $393,085.56 demand/indictment involving to fine folks up in Pontotoc County in the big metropolis of Ecru. That case, too, was worked up by the State Auditor's Office. The post here had the lede, "Gun Nuts Gone Wild." Worth taking a look, as it is larger than the DMR demand.

Anonymous said...

5:56 This has always been the most underfunded, down trodden, institution in the whole state system of higher education. They are probably understaffed and have office personnel doing multiple tasks with multiple responsibilities, and over-lapping authority, which is an open invitation for embezzlement.

Also, are you kidding? They have historically the worst football program in the state.

Anonymous said...

Coahoma had the longest losing streak in the nation. They don't spend money on football. Football budget is probably a tenth of "Last Chance U's" budget.

Anonymous said...

@8:53 "Who ratted them out?" Um, that's the wrong reference fella. Snitch/Rat, or Moles are what criminals do to other criminals - or to the good guys.....whistleblowers are the good guys/gals who uncover the criminals.

Anonymous said...

What's all the crap about these cases were 'worked up' prior to White? Of course they were. All cases take months, some years, to work up and bring to an end. All agencies and departments have changes of leadership. They all continue working - before for the old leadership, and after for the new. No big deal.

White says so in this presser - that this case has been ongoing for a year, and that it is the work of the professional staff in the auditor's office.

I don't read in this - or any of the others - that he personally is taking credit for the findings. But, he is the current Auditor so it is up to him to make the announcement, and in which he acknowledges that he didn't audit a damn thing. Its not his job to do so.

Yes, it is a few months before election time, but last I checked, White had nothing to do with the dates of next year's election or the date that the previous Auditor left and created a vacancy. What exactly would all you folks that can't stand anybody or anything, just want to bitch, expect to be done? Ignore this audit because it was started by his predecessor? Have him call Pickering back and have him come make the announcement that there were a couple of crooks in Coahoma County (that's no news) but that they now have been caught? Or just not tell the public about these sorry SOBs that are robbing from the public funds that they were supposed to be managing?

I don't know of a fourth choice - if you have one you can throw it out. Otherwise, pick from the above or shut up.

Anonymous said...

Pickering suddenly left because he knew where this investigation was going and didn't want to even be associated with it, or become unpopular to the state power structure who do NOT want anyone going near their knowing many-billions-boondoggle that education is....that's where many voters work and are chasing a pension. LOTS of state and federal money being swindled from the taxpayers, and Pickering bolted. White will uncover billions more if he just keeps digging, and begging for people to come forward.

Anonymous said...

When will the mayor of Clarksdale holler racism? And a more important question: When will the Auditor start a similar investigation of CMU? At least this much money and probably more has been stolen in Canton.

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