Tuesday, October 16, 2018

State Auditor Issues Demand Over $100,000 Against Current and Former CMU Officials

State Auditor Shad White issued the following statement.

Auditor’s Office Reveals Widespread Misspending Practices at Canton Municipal
Utilities and Issues Thirteen Demand Letters Worth Over $100,000

 Today State Auditor Shad White announced that civil demands were issued to 12 current and former Canton Municipal Utilities employees. The demands total $101,829.76 and include principle, interest, and investigative costs.

The following demands were issued:

Kenneth Wayne Jones – $78,612.81
The late Charles Weems – $4,308.00
Cleotha Williams – $3,722.20
Cleveland Anderson – $3,671.15
LC Slaughter – $3,542.02
Charlie Morgan – $2,370.49
John Noble – $1,937.51
Silbrina Wright – $1,239.50
Robert Chinn – $983.57
Simon Collier – $588.90
Miriam Koury – $458.94
Stacey Spencer – $394.67


Former Canton Municipal Utilities Executive Director Kenneth Wayne Jones was issued a demand for $78,612.81, which includes an illegal severance settlement agreement paid by Canton Municipal Authority to Jones, a Samsung LED television, and an Amazon Fire TV Stick. Severance pay for public officials is prohibited by Mississippi statutes and has been addressed by the Mississippi Attorney General multiple times. Both electronic items were purchased by Jones using a procurement card belonging to Canton Municipal Utilities during his employment and could not be located during a recent asset inventory.

Each current and former board member was issued a demand related to voting to approve personal purchases made by Canton Municipal Utilities employees with a procurement card. The purchases were approved from November 2015 until November 2017 and included alcohol and gift cards. One demand letter related to this case has not yet been delivered at this time.

"When this many people violate purchasing laws, you have an organization that needs to entirely rethink its practices. Typically we do not have cause to issue this many demands to a single organization, but that is the case here. Ratepayers and others who put their faith in Canton Municipal Utilities need to be made whole, and the people receiving these demands are personally responsible for paying this money back. I applaud our investigative team for working quickly and carefully to bring these problems to light,” said State Auditor Shad White.


Earlier CMU-Related Posts
CMU pays $75,000 to Kenny Wayne for just being Kenny Wayne. KF sues. 
Did CMU pay off Kenny Wayne? Who knows? 
 State Auditor Demands CMU Commissioners Repay Nearly $100,000 in Illegal Legal Fees.
WLBT reports on CMU credit cards.  
Credit Cards + Employees = Trouble? 
Time stands still at CMU.
CMU paid nearly $100,000 for "community outreach."


Kingfish note:  JJ broke the news of both the credit card misuse and the illegal settlement payment.  JJ submitted a public records request for a copy of the settlement agreement and settlement payment but CMU denied the request.  CMU provided the records after JJ filed a public records lawsuit. The records showed CMU paid Mr. Jones $75,000 even though he never sued CMU nor filed a grievance after the Board terminated his position as Executive Director.

The misuse of CMU credit cards was also reported a year ago on Halloween Day (naturally).  JJ reported:

Purchases at jewelry stores, trips to swanky beach resorts, $1,000 bbq meals, clothes, and steak dinners populate the credit card bills of Canton Municipal Utilities employees.  Cleaning bills, coffee, quick trips to fast food joints - no purchase was too small or too trivial for the favored few to pay with a CMU credit card.
 The State Auditor also issued a demand against CMU Commissioners after the Board approved paying personal legal fees for past Commissioners several years go.  JJ reported:

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....

 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.* ....

Keep in mind that the media reported almost none of these stories.  WLBT briefly covered the credit card story but that was it. Apparently secret settlements and misspending thousands of dollars of government credit cards aren't enough to get their attention, right, Jerry Mitchell? The Madison County Journal definitely couldn't be bothered with investigating CMU but doesn't seem to mind reporting on all things Belhaven University and Jackson Prep.

Meanwhile, JJ thought readers might enjoy perusing these comments from previous CMU posts about the credit cards and Kenny Wayne settlement. Enjoy.

WAKE UP MISSISSIPPI. WAKE UP SHAD WHITE AND DO YOUR JOB. August 17, 2018 at 12:23 PM

OK People..... The State Auditor has been in Canton for months and has found nothing. This is totally legal. CMU could have paid Kenny $1,000,000 and it’s legal. So shut up about CMU. August 17, 2018 at 12:52 PM

Nothing to see here folks, let's move along. Pickering wasn't afraid of anyone. Just like the credit card expose a few months ago. Everything is above board. August 17, 2018 at 1:20 PM

Severance in the public sector is legal for one reason - Because it is not illegal. Whether it makes sense and serves the public interest are other matters. It does neither. March 20, 2018 at 4:45 AM

They (WLBT) are going down the same rabbit hole you did Kingfisher and I bet they won't apologize when the find out that these are employee issued cards and only CMU incurred charges were expensed. November 30, 2017 at 12:55 PM

Just look at the payments made, each person named is responsible for and pays his or her own bill. I afraid you went fishing and all you caught was an empty boot this time Kingfisher. October 31, 2017 at 4:58 PM

WMGO in canton just reported all expenses are justified as necessary operating expenses. November 1, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Then there is this gem from a certain someone up in Madison County.

Kingfish is not 'going to the mat'. He's only sticking his head into the boxing arena and hollering out enough to excite the folks in the stands, get them all agitated and loaded up with torches and pitchforks.

58 comments:

Just you watch said...

Kenny Wayne will declare bankruptcy.

In the alternative, he'll go 'round to the churches & pass the hat.

But I bet he declares bankruptcy.

Prospero said...

I don't care for Phil Bryant but I'm liking Shad White more with each passing day. White begs the question as to what, exactly, Pickering was actually getting accomplished all those years. Apparently little to nothing.

Anonymous said...

Money draws crooks faster than manure draws flies. Rudy Warnock was the only white boy (and non lawyer at that) who could rip off CMU faster than the Blackmons.

The only way for the CMU rate payers to get a fair chance is for Canton to divest CMU to a nonpolitical entity (e.g. Bear Creek Water or other) and remove the ability of Canton's Jacktown wannabe politicians to get their greedy hands on the money.

Anonymous said...

Few people affected "put their faith in Canton Municipal Utilities" to do the right thing but our new Rock Star Auditor deserves the faith of all Mississippians.

Anonymous said...

‘bout time.

Anonymous said...

JJ broke the news of both the credit card misuse and the illegal settlement payment. JJ submitted a public records request for a copy of the settlement agreement and settlement payment but CMU denied the request. -->> CMU provided the records after JJ filed a public records lawsuit. <<-- The records showed CMU paid Mr. Jones $75,000 even though he never sued CMU nor filed a grievance after the Board terminated his position as Executive Director.

The misuse of CMU credit cards was also reported a year ago on Halloween Day (naturally).


Sam R Hall, DonnerKay, Raoul Knave, CJ Alabaster, please take note.

Anonymous said...

Your perseverance Kingfish is laudable, your thick skin admirable!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Shad and KF. I doubt anything would have been done about these thieves but for JJ calling attention to it. Please keep digging out the dirt as I'm sure there are numerous other instances of theft from us taxpayers across the state. Jerry Mitchell is a joke.

Anonymous said...

I can't decide whether to call 'chicken shit' or 'chicken feed'. This is a drop in the bucket. Hopefully the investigation is ongoing and will result in demands for fifty times this amount, if not more.

Louis LeFleur said...

I agree with everyone else that we probably owe this story/result entirely to Kingfish, but I still think it's a little early to be lauding Shad White with the result. Give him time, though, and he'll probably unearth much bigger scandals.

Anonymous said...

Then who gets the credit Louie for the result if not White? Stop beating around the bush.

Anonymous said...

Why not make those who authorized kenny wayne's severance payment pay it.

Anonymous said...

That's it?

All the stuff going on up there and this is the end result?

Pretty weak

Anonymous said...

In addition to the demands in your March 8 post?

Louis LeFleur said...

Just sayin', Shad has only been State Auditor for 3 months, which is barely enough to start an investigation, much less finish one. This work and the other announcements since taking office were almost certainly primarily done under Pickering's watch. Again, that said, give Shad a little more time and there will probably be some big stuff coming out. I look forward to that. Take 'em down!

Anonymous said...

How much hair product and bedazzled jeans is Rudy going to have to return to pay his part back?

Anonymous said...

That's right, this was started a year ago under Pickering. Glad that things are being brought to light now. I have lots of experience in this area and it takes almost 12 month's to wade thru these issues.
I hope that Shad keeps up on some of these issues. He needs to look into the City of Jackson departments and Rudy's Warnock's payments should have never happened.

Anonymous said...

CMU has been dirty for many many years.It was the only thing in Canton that has any money and could legally steal from is citizen for people had to have water, sewers and power. It could do any thing it wanted and no one could do a thing and this was before the real crooks took over.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying Pickering was investigating Kenny Wayne's severance "a year ago"?

Anonymous said...

Regardless when this investigation
kicked off still unexplained is the
paucity of demands issued during
Stacey Pickering's 10 years in office.

Anonymous said...

At least six, maybe seven, of the eight previous comments you've highlighted were obviously written by the same person. My guess is someone from Blackmon's office or Kenny Jones himself. I'm betting you already have strong suspicions who commonly refers to you as 'Kingfisher'.

Anonymous said...

What I'm saying is that Shad didn't get this info and come to a resolution in 4 months. It has been investigated all year. It takes time to gather bank accounts, credit card info and do interviews and look at board minutes if there are any. Wonder what company has the public official bonds on these board members and Director?
I would go after the attorney (Blackmon) if they gave the board bad advice on paying Kenny Jones off. These board attorneys are sleep walking thru many of these municipal meetings. If he didn't advise them not to pay him off then he did not render good advice which is what he was being paid to do.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to know what CMU delinquent utility accounts look like? Specifically what has been written off and what is currently delinquent? ie: cut off one day and cut back on the next day at the same address under another family member's name. KW is a pimp and always dressed like one. He can't find a job now flipping burgers. a complete joke

Anonymous said...

CMU went in front of the PSC within the last month for improper rates. Also discovered about $15 million in illegal funds transferred from CMU to the city. Most of that dates to the days of John Wallace.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how much lower auntie emma's light bill could have been were it not for all of CMU's continued graft and corruption and payouts?

Anonymous said...

And Ashley comstocks payments? Services rendered huh? Lol

Anonymous said...

What about rings issued to long term employees? It doesn't look like Shad got much out of these crooks.

Anonymous said...


Lawyer question.

Could the demand letters and amounts be discharged in a personal bankruptcy, or would these be exempt like student loans?

Kingfish said...

One day I will tell you guys what I went through just to see the minutes. Story for another day.

Anonymous said...

I know it just kills you guys that the Blackmons names aren't on this list.

Anonymous said...

Canton government seems to be a den of thieves.

Anonymous said...

CMU has kept the city afloat for decades. If you take them down, you take down the city. Well, so what. Who wants to cozy up to crooks just to survive? CMU is the JIM JONES of municipalities.

Anonymous said...

What about previous General Manager's at CMU? Did they receive a severance? Brian Finnegan or others? Do we know?

Anonymous said...

The fact that they paid KW to go away wasn't his fault.I bet he has a case,did he sign the check?

Anonymous said...

Hard to see the law because of the cloud of politics.

Anonymous said...

All Shad is doing is making the bondig companies scream.
Oh you better believe everyone's rates are going to go up.

Shad Moves Offices To Canton.. said...

Can somebody tell us, with certain accuracy, how a group of municipal commissioners has the authority to 'transfer' or 'loan' millions to a city general fund to prop up the operation of the city? Supposedly this has been done multiple times with CMU and Canton. Who authorizes that? Who documents it? Who tracks re-payments from the City to the Utility? Or do repayments even ever happen? Who pockets administrative fees? How much do the Blackmons rake off every time this happens? Did Espy prosper in his short time there?

And how much dung did Rudy's sub-mariner cameras spot in the water pipes before CMU got rid of HIM? I know he pocketed a few coins.

Anonymous said...

At least their water bills go out to customers.

Anonymous said...

@6:22 it is very simple. CMU simply writes a check to the City of Canton. It started probably 40 years ago under John Wallace. Or maybe the city needs money and asks CMU for a loan. Then CMU gives the loan and knows they will never be paid back. It is illegal and John Wallace didn't care. I've heard a number between $15,000,000 and $30,000,000 over many years. If you think for a minute that General Wallace is worried about petty things like "legalities" then you have your head in the sand. General Wallace doesn't need "authority to transfer and loan". He makes his own rules, laws be damned! Ask him and he will tell you. Just another con artist in a long line of Canton con artists. Espy, Rudy, Blackmon, Kenny Wayne didn't invent the game, they just played it.

Micah Gober said...

To the good people of Canton Mississippi the biggest jive turkey (Kenneth Wayne Jones) will not be giving out Free Thanksgiving Turkeys. He will be paying back money to the town of Canton, Mississippi $78,612.81. Hey more Christmas lights on the Canton square.

Anonymous said...

I don’t have a dog to hunt in this one, but why is C.M.U., going around, making illegal severance package agreements with their employees? If I’m to believe the current auditor, this agreement should not have been made. Whether they asked for Kenneth’s resignation, or he willfully wanted to leave, why are they paying folk severances they should NOT? Also, I thought severances were usually paid, and no fault nor wrong doing was found? Who gives someone a $50,000 parachute and THEY were wrong or found to be in some malfeasance? If this was to keep Kenneth away or hush and not “sue” them, what leg would he have to stand on, if he clearly had or has done something or some things wrong? This isn’t right. He should be able to keep the severance, give back anything that is clearly C.M.U.’s and keep it moving!

Anonymous said...

There are skeletons in Canton government yet to be dug up. Can you say "hush money?" I know you can.

Anonymous said...

Along the same lines of what 11:10 just said.....If Mr Jones was fired for malfeasance or incompetence, then he is owed no severance. Yesterday Mr Jones gave a press conference and said he was not fired, but rather, he voluntarily resigned of his own desire. If he resigned or quit his job because he didn't want the job any more as he said in the conference, then he is owed no severance either. So why was he paid any severance ?

In his press conference yesterday, he said the 75k severance was paid as a "settlement" with CMU. Settlement for what ? He says he voluntarily resigned because he didn't want the job any more, so he has/had no claim against CMU and nothing to "settle". Maybe if he was wrongfully terminated by CMU, he might have an employment claim against CMU that he could settle, but he said yesterday in his press conference that he was not terminated.

As usual Mr Jones (and the folks at CMU) are giving conflicting stories on this that simply make no sense.

Anonymous said...

If it is illegal to pay a severance to a public employee, why did the Auditor not ask CMU and its Board to repay an illegal/improper payment they approved ?

If CMU and its Board were held liable for making this improper payment and required to pay it back, seems like the Blackmons, as the attorneys for CMU, would be liable for malpractice for advising CMU that such a payment was valid and legal, when in fact it was not according to the Auditor.

Anonymous said...

@12:27 Good questions. I'm assuming Kenny Wayne Jones resigned but threatened litigation. So maybe they paid him a severance with the understanding that he would not sue. So Kenny Wayne Jones refers to it as a settlement. Maybe? I have no idea.

Theca Jones said...

Hopefully the State Fair Commission will be investigated soon

Anonymous said...

Shad ain't crazy enough to engage the Blackmons, they would eat him for lunch.

Anonymous said...

Why does the name "NOBLE" show up every time there is contrivercy?

How Much Do A Bentley Cost? said...

Why are you clowns continuing to rattle on about severance and under which circumstances it's 'usually' paid? Back up a bit and understand this: It is not LEGAL to pay severance to government employees REGARDLESS of the reason they leave a job. PERIOD!

Next Point: If the attorney for Madison County Economic Development Authority is being sued (or his bonding agent is) for allowing that group to authorize Rudy to do another airport study (that cost over a million bucks), while that group had a voting member under Rudy's employ...then why is not the Blackmon group being sued for allowing a Board to pay this illegal payment out to Kenny W.?

Well, maybe the answer to my own question is this: MCEDA itself is suing it's previous attorney and his bonding company and there is no way CMU will sue the Blackmons since they're all in bed together and have been for years.

Anonymous said...

The corruption in the Jackson Dept of Public Works is long overdue for scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

@8:58 wants to know about "NOBLE". Let's see:

1. CMU purchases insurance through Roberts Insurance Agency in Canton. Roberts pockets the money and CMU ends up uninsured. Nobody goes to prison. Noble is on the CMU board at the time and works at Roberts Insurance Agency.

2. Noble wants Terry Lovelace of UCI, and Claude Banks (Karl's son) to remove sludge at the Canton sewage lagoon despite the fact that they have no experience and have submitted a price that is several hundred thousand dollars more than the very experienced low bidder.

3. Noble and Charles Weems pal around with Rudolph Warnock and owe him tons of favors. And Rudy knows how to call in a favor.

Anonymous said...

Image what the FBI would find if they investigated government officials in Madison County? It's going to happen on day, there's too much shady, illegal, corrupt stuff going on there.

Anonymous said...

Old Rudy got the best of all of you, and it drives you crazy. Admit it, he is just smarter than most and always a few moves ahead. He is somewhere, probably on an island drinking champagne and laughing. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

RUDY RUDY Ru... said...

Don't count Rudy's chickens quite yet, 10:25. Yesterday's Journal verifies that he has been added as a defendant in the million dollar airport scam suit by MCEDA. He might want to save money by switching to Ripple on that island.

Anonymous said...

@10:25 No doubt Rudy has gotten rich. Most people would rather just make a nice living and keep their integrity and reputation intact.

Rudy is now in Alabama working for Waggoner Engineering. I think he still has his house in Reunion.

Anonymous said...

@10:25pm. While writing a tell all book, with pictures.

Anonymous said...

@8:38 If Rudy would write a tell all book, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Because he has had his hand in dang near every scandal in the metro area over the last 15-20 years.

Anonymous said...

Rudy is a good man that refused Mary Hawkins on multiple occasions. She ruined his name in Madison County because he said NO. #Metoo

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