Wednesday, October 31, 2018

State Auditor Arrests Jones County Supe

State Auditor Shad White issued the following statement.

Today Special Agents from the office of State Auditor Shad White arrested Jones County Supervisor Jerome Wyatt for embezzlement and fraud. He was indicted by a grand jury assembled by District Attorney Anthony J. Buckley, the District Attorney for Mississippi’s 18th District. Wyatt was also issued a demand letter at the time of arrest.

Wyatt is charged with embezzling funds intended for a youth mentoring program and also from the sale of a county vehicle. Wyatt is also charged with fraud for authorizing improper overtime payments to a county employee.

Some of Wyatt’s embezzlement revolved around his involvement with a group called “The Gentlemen’s Club.” Wyatt founded “The Gentlemen’s Club” as a mentoring program for young men at Laurel Middle School. The alleged purpose of the “Club” was to provide programming for young at-risk men and to also fund field trips, blazers for members, and incentives for students to maintain high grade point averages. “The Gentlemen’s Club” maintains an expense account composed of public funds at the Laurel School District to pay for these items.


During a routine financial statement audit of Jones County, the Office of the State Auditor discovered that Wyatt sought and received personal reimbursement for certain Club expenditures from the Laurel School District and also submitted reimbursement requests to the County for the same Club expenditures. For instance, Wyatt was reimbursed by the Club’s school district expense account for the catering costs of Club events even though a catering company had already been paid directly by the Jones County Board of Supervisors. Wyatt’s actions constituted the conversion of public funds to personal use.

Additionally, Wyatt was indicted for fraud after approving improper overtime payments for a Jones County employee when the employee attended an out-of-state “Gentlemen’s Club” trip. On March 16 and 17, 2018, an off-duty county employee served as a driver for a Club trip to Alabama. That employee was paid by the Laurel School District’s expense fund for his work on that trip. The employee also, however, requested and received overtime payment from the County for those same days. Wyatt was the employee’s supervisor and approved the improper overtime payment to the employee.

Finally, Wyatt was indicted for embezzlement of funds obtained from the sale of a county vehicle. In May 2017, the Jones County Board of Supervisors approved the sale of a 1997 Ford F-350 for scrap. In late 2017, Wyatt arranged for the truck to be sold and scrapped at a salvage facility in Lamar County. The County never received payment from the sale of the truck and eventually alerted the Office of the State Auditor. Investigators from the Auditor’s office then determined that the salvage yard had paid an individual personally for the vehicle. That individual was acting at Wyatt’s behest.

In total, Wyatt is charged with fraudulently approving payments and embezzling $2,819.70. With interest and investigative costs, Wyatt is responsible for repaying $6,076.46. If convicted, Wyatt faces up to 45 years in prison and an additional $25,000 in fines.

Today’s indictment was not Wyatt’s first encounter with the Auditor’s Office. In January 2018, an audit exception regarding reimbursements for travel not related to official duties as a county supervisor was made. Jerome Wyatt repaid the full amount of exception.

"Supervisor Wyatt took money dedicated to a mentorship program for young men for his own personal benefit. Those young men deserve better. Our schools deserve better. The case as a whole shows Wyatt was willing to take advantage of the taxpayers of Jones County, and now he needs to be held accountable. Public offices are not there to provide special benefits to those who hold them. Public officials should serve the people, not use their positions to enrich themselves,” said State Auditor Shad White.

“I also applaud the hard work of District Attorney Buckley in this case and his willingness to bring the case to the grand jury,” said White. “My office is prepared to work with all the district attorneys around the state to hold anyone who embezzles public money accountable, regardless of who you are or where you're from. Having partners like District Attorney Buckley is critical for accomplishing that mission."


33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, so definitive and confident in his findings. What happened to statements like "accused of taking money" rather than "took money"? I'm concerned with little Shadrock's jump to conclusions here and overstepping his authority as just Pheel's peon.

Anonymous said...

So Wyatt was indicted (with the presumption of innocence), but why do special agents of the State Auditor get involved? Why not the local sheriff's office? This seems like someone grabbing for headline space.

Anonymous said...

Special Agent of the State Auditor? So, mall cop meets accounting nerd?

Theca Jones said...

Hmmm. Seems to be grabbing for headlines but if he did it he did it. Now, when will the State Fair Commission be investigated?

Anonymous said...

Man, the free staters are out in force today. Good work, Shadley.

Anonymous said...

Big whoop. Why look at Jones county when Hinds County is run amuck. Sounds like the guy was trying to do some good. 7000.00 ho hum.

Anonymous said...

For the Buttercup @ 10:22 - How about you go back and take notes. Make a tally mark for every time you read the words 'indicted for' and 'charged with'. What's your real complaint here? Go ahead..let it out..let the butt-hurt flow. You'll feel so much better.

For the local sheriff to get involved, as you suggest, would mean the county District Attorney would have to indict and an arrest warrant would have to be secured. What's the sense of going to that extreme? Then you'd be bitching about grandstanding and involving half the county!

Anonymous said...

The losers are commenting in force today. Both of them. Keep up the great work Mr Auditor!

Anonymous said...

45 years for less than $3000. Meanwhile, Washingtonites are feeding at the corruption trough to the tune of millions and billions. That's the world we live in now.

Anonymous said...

Please, please Auditor investigate the City of Jackson's Public Works Department.

Anonymous said...

If I did the rough math correctly, and in light of the Lamar Adams sentence, either Wyatt should get about 4 days and 6 hours for stealing $3000, or, Adams should have gotten about 1,500,000 years, assuming Adams stole $100,000,000.

Anonymous said...

Young Shadley better not take as much as a state owned pencil home with him.....lest he want to go to the big house.

Anonymous said...

You people complain when someone does their job (Shad) and also when someone does not. Probably just other thieves worried he is coming for them next.

Anonymous said...

KF, thanks for the Devin White humor this week. As a MSU fan, I thought that call was bogus. Losing White for a half probably means you give up a few more yards on the ground, but I don't think it will matter that much when it is all said and done Saturday night. Just make sure that your guys beat Bama up as much as they beat you up. I want my guys to have an iota of a chance next weekend.

Anonymous said...

Hey Wyatt, you get to serve the same time for robbing the gumball machine in the lobby as you would robbing the bank vault. So you might as well go to the vault. Unless you just want some gum.

Anonymous said...

Hey 12:10, why single out the Public Works Department? I'd audit every department and division, from Personnel all the way up to the Mayor's and City Council's offices.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe the backlash to a state auditor actually doing his job. By the way, when the state auditor does his job that means we the tax payers save money.

Anonymous said...

Public employees across the state are feeling their butts pucker a little more each day with Shad on the job.

Anonymous said...

A program for youth is called "The Gentlemen's Club?"

Anonymous said...

Obviously Mr. Wyatt did not pay his good ole boy membership dues last month. Or maybe the Jones County chapter rejected his application. Tough.

Anonymous said...

Mr/Miss Theca: Please tell us what corruption exists with the State Fair Commission. Are you pissed that the Dixie National gets more press than the Black Rodeo?

Anonymous said...

45 years for $6,000? That is more than Adams or Bernie Ebbers. That's a hype of a press release if I've ever seen one. This was written by his handlers before his appointment was ever announced.

Anonymous said...

LOL at 2:43. Shad doing his job in this case means the taxpayers are going to fork out for the next 45 years housing this dude. I sure hope cooler heads prevail during any sentencing.

Moral of the story: don't do the small crimes in this state when people are out to make a name for themselves.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:11 - Dear Dunce: There are no 'small crimes'.

As a well known neurosurgeon once told me: "There is no minor surgery - Only minor surgeons!"

Anonymous said...

All kidding aside....it does appear that a pattern is forming. Shad White does have the authority and means to expose a LOT of graft/corruption, but seems to be showcasing some low hanging fruit. There are plenty of leads to inquire about in almost every agency, but again, it appears he's being quite selective not to affect anyone in prominent positions or major agency functions. Sounds like a certain Attorney General we all know of who hasn't done diddly for Mississippians, and protected the inner circle on his entire watch. Shad White's halo is gaining tarnish with every day that he doesn't go after the real fraudsters, and instead - just lower level employees.

Anonymous said...

Payments sent to Jackson's water bill collection vendor in MEMPHIS are getting applied to accounts other than that of the remitter. Please investigate Mr. Auditor. Whose accounts are getting credited and what is the relationship of those parties to Jackson City Hall and the MEMPHIS-based vendor?

Anonymous said...

JSU and Dr. Carolyn Myers misappropriate millions of dollars from the JSU Booster organization, and crickets. This poor guy eff's up over $2800!!! 45 years? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

9:22 You must first understand what Dr. Carolyn Myers was hired to do. Which you apparently don't. The college board's agenda remains intact. Wyatt on the other hand stepped outside his box, a small step, but one step too many.

Anonymous said...

10:57 what in the hell are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

Y'all cut Shad some slack. He can't do it all overnight. He's making decent headway. Just give him time....

"One....Small step..for man; One Giant. Leap. For....mankind."

On a related note....Rudy has been in the news a lot for being sorta connected to people who 'off' other people. I trust Shad has some big ole boys at his disposal.

Anonymous said...

CMU commissioners robbing us blind here in Lake Caroline (we are Republicans our in L.C. Shad). And you arrest this bum but let the CMU Commissioners pay their personal bills and slap on the wrist is all they get. Shad wake up son!

Anonymous said...

"Honest Mississippi politician" = oxymoron

Anonymous said...

Jones County Board of Supervisors of which Wyatt is the president have been banging heads with the Jones County sheriff, Alex "Hollywood" Hodge, over budgets recently. It has been very contentious and heated at times. Recently though the BOS switched their point of view slightly and did approve raises for JCSD employees. The overall budget difference of 2-3 million between approved and sheriff requested remains.

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