Thursday, October 14, 2021

AG Goes after Kenny Wayne & Former CMU Cronies

The Attorney General sued several former CMU officials and commissioners as well as the surety bond company  for repayment of misspent funds yesterday and Hinds County Chancery Court. The complaint was filed more than three years after State Auditor Shad White issued the demands for the funds. JJ uncovered, investigated, and reported the illegal spending.

The defendants are Cleotha Williams, Charles Morgan, Lannie Slaughter, Kelvish Nason, Isiac Jackson, Cleveland Anderson, Robert Chinn, Jewel Williams, Stacey Spencer, Silbrina Wright, Kenny Wayne Jones, and Western Surety Company.

Illegal Payments of Attorneys'  Fees

Cleotha Williams, Slaughter, Cheeks, and Shoney Harris were CMU commissioners in 2013. The Canton Board of Alderman voted to remove them from the board of commissioners in July 2013. A court fight ensued as the now ex – commissioners tried to regain their seats. The former commissioners fought all the way to the Mississippi Supreme Court but their efforts were all for naught. However, such court fights are not cheap in this case was no exception as they were left with some sizable legal bills.

Gone but not forgotten the CMU board of commissioners approved paying their legal fees in 2017.

JJ broke the story on January 30, 2018:

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….

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. rest of article

The invoiced amounts are:

Wooten: $11,550

Goliday: $4,120

Turnage: $69,992

The complaint asked the Chancellor to order repayment of these legal fees.

Illegal Severance Payment to Former CMU CEO Kenny Wayne Jones

Next up is our old friend Kenny Wayne Jones, the former CEO of CMU. He is the current County Administrator of Hinds County.

The complaint charges Mr. Jones made” substantial payments to entities” that did not have a contract CMU or for unauthorized work.  Mr. Jones included the invoices on the claims docket that was approved by the board. The CEO admitted to these acts at a December 28, 2017 hearing for the CMU board of commissioners.

Kenny Wayne even had the brass to blame the commissioners for his improper acts. He said they should have performed due diligence before approving the invoices he submitted to the board. (#48)

The board terminated Mr. Jones at the hearing. The commissioners voted unanimously on January 16, 2018 to pay $75,000 to the former CEO in exchange for a confidential settlement agreement. Kenny Wayne took the money and ran. 

The confidential settlement agreement was against the law so Yours truly sued in court to obtain a copy of it. CMU provided the agreement which showed the $75,000 payment.

The Atty. Gen. said the payment and settlement was an “illegal severance agreement with a discharge public employee “that violated article 4, section 96 of the Mississippi Constitution. earlier post

CMU tried to keep the payment secret and denied a JJ public records request for the settlement agreement. Yours truly sued CMU in Madison County Chancery Court. CMU relented and provided the records. 

Illegal Credit Card Payments

Nothing attracts sticky fingers like government credit cards and the senior credit card was no exception.

The complaint claims Anderson, Morgan, Williams, slaughter, jewel Williams, chinn, Spencer, and right had access to CMU credit cards. They allegedly made more than a few purchases of jewelry, gifts, booze, and food on the CMU done. Nevertheless, CMU paid the bill. The AG  said the defendants are liable for equal amounts of each unauthorized purchase they made and/or voted to approve for payment.

JJ reported on Halloween  Day in 2017:

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. 

JJ obtained a copy of credit card bills that were paid by CMU from December 2016 to July 2017. No fewer than eighteen CMU employees* submitted credit card bills in 2017 that were paid by CMU.   However, none of the CMU Board members had credit cards....

Executive Director Kenny Wayne Jones loves him some steak and bbq.  He used his credit card to purchase steak dinners, photography, bbq at Marlo's, items at Heart of the South Apparel & Gifts in Brandon, Casual Male in Jackson, and of course the usual trips to Sam's Club, Walmart, and of course, Penn's Fish House.  An Executive Director has to have furniture so nearly three thousand dollars was spent at and National Biz Furniture.... Earlier post, receipts, and invoices

The complaint has the following counts:

I: Breach of duties by commissioners on March 7, 2017 when they voted to pay personal legal fees for the former commissioners

II: Breach of duties by commissioners on January 16, 2018 when they voted to pay an illegal severance payment the former CEO Kenny Wayne Jones.

III: Breach of duties for improper use in improper payments of CMU credit cards.

The Attorney General seeks the following damages from the defendants:

 Cleotha Williams and Lannie Slaughter: judgment of $164,384, interest, and fines of at least $150,000 for violations in counts I,II, and III against each individual.

 Cleveland Anderson:  judgment of $89,333 and interest for violations and counts I and III.

Charles Morgan: judgment of $85,663, interest of  $8,394 for violations in counts I and III

Isaic Jackson and Kelvish Nason: judgment of $75,000, interests of $4875, and fines of at least $150,000 from violations and count 2 against each individual

Robert Chinn: judgment of $75,000, interest of $4,875and a fine of at least $150,000 for violations of counts II and III.

Kenny Wayne Jones: judgment of $75,000, interest of $4,875and a fine of at least $150,000 for violations of counts II and III.

Jewel Williams: judgment of $1,133,interest of $627 for violation of count III

Stacey Spencer: judgment of $341 and interest of one $40 for violation of Count III

Silbrina Wright: Judgment of $865 and interest of $514 per violation of Count III

Don't forget the insurance company.

 Western Surety issued a blanket bond to the CMU Board of Commissioners during the time when these alleged acts occurred. The complaint seeks $225,000 for the shenanigans of Kenny Wayne Jones an additional interest of nearly $30,000. The insurance company also those $128,515 for the improper payments of legal fees. The State Auditor made the same demands upon Western Surety but they were rejected.

The Attorney General asked the court to find Western Surety at least $150,000 and penalties that are 12% of the bonds.

Special Assistant Attorney General Stephen Schelver represents the state. The case is assigned to Chancellor Denise Owens.


Anonymous said...

Good deal now can we talk about that sawmill raising wages in Louisville ?

Anonymous said...

Most of those dirtbags are probably judgment-proof.

Lotta bankruptcies about to be filed.

Anonymous said...

Oh snap

Some puckered butts now

Pay Up You Thieves said...

Where are all of the AG haters now? Crickets...

KF, great job!

Anonymous said...

Why was this filed in Hinds County and not Madison County ?

Anonymous said...

Lord this dead horse has been resurrected and beaten back to death again….

Anonymous said...

Between Canton and Pelahatchie, CNA isn't going to write a surety bond for a municipality in Mississippi before much longer. They are getting hammered.

Anonymous said...

For these opportunists and their attorneys, Canton is a virtually unattended cash cow too inviting to be left unmolested. It only stops because some outside party, the feds or the state, blows the whistle. The poor residents will continue to get fleeced until they wake up. Fat chance.

Anonymous said...

@12:44pm - Hater here. One case out of how many hundreds that are still sitting unprosecuted while suing a sovereign nation who couldn't give a f*** less about the lawsuit.

But hey, throw her a bone I suppose.

Anonymous said...

One wonders whether the retailers whereat illegal purchases were made could be required to refund or reimburse the utility (through the AG collection process) the amounts that were misspent at those retailers? Would also like to know what Kenny Wayne bought at Heart of the South in Brandon that could possibly relate to CMU activities? And how much did he spend there?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Morgan is a white man.

cleanin house means hauling out all the trash said...

Was Deppity Feel the whistleblower again?

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to her trooper bodyguards? They get into any trouble?

Anonymous said...

These CMU folks are deserving of their troubles. But let's not act like it started with Kenny Wayne Jones.

Under the leadership of John Wallace, CMU illegally spent over $22 million since 2000. And gave in excess of $1.2 million in debt forgiveness to the City of Canton. This info was in the documents and depositions and testimony from the Gluckstadt Incorporation and Canton Annexation trial. CMU testified and admitted the fraudulent expenditures.

And under John Wallace, it was discovered that CMU illegaly raised rates on those folks in Lake Caroline. And I could go on and on and on and on ........

Anonymous said...

Attn 2:06 please go on and on and on……….

Anonymous said...

Anyone that sues to maintain their appointed board position should be investigated for something that may be illegal.

Anonymous said...

Why not arrested?

Anonymous said...

This sounds like the exact same playbook going around Hinds County. Kenny Wayne Jones is the only employee getting COVID premium pay. Since he was appointed. He also wants the Board to approve credit cards for county use.. Same playbook- different year!

April 19, 2021 meeting
Approve Appointing Kenneth Wayne Jones as County Administrator, effective May 1 UPON A motion of Credell Calhoun and a second by David Archie, Vern Gavin voting aye, Robert Graham voting aye, Bobby McGowan voting aye, it was
RESOLVED to approve Appointing Kenneth Wayne Jones as County Administrator, at an annual salary of $120,000.00, plus an additional salary of $5,000.00 per year during the Pandemic event, effective May 1, 2021.

Approved credit cards use at July 19, 2021 meeting
Approve Credit Card Authorization for Travel Reservations and Rentals up to $25,000 UPON A motion of Bobby McGowan and a second by Vern Gavin, David Archie.

Anonymous said...

Interesting all this came out about John Wallace for 22 years during the Canton Annexation. What else came up during that annexation?

Anonymous said...

Ellis Turnage bills at $300 an hour?

Anonymous said...

Let me know when either: (a) Somebody goes to jail, or (b) somebody repays what they stole.

Anonymous said...

I sure hope it doesn’t take this long to get them folks who don’t want to answer subpoenas from Congress to justice.

Anonymous said...

Before they filed, did anybody in her office ask Lynn Fitch if she has a problem with someone spending public monies on furniture??

Anonymous said...

Folks y’all are smart people so tell me why “some people’s” get a civil demand for BIGG MONEY like this case. And “OTHER” people who take say $2k to $5k illegally are arrested, booked and charged with criminal charges? Please help me understand. Also, WHY would the AG file demands in Hinds County when the acts were committed in Madison County? I’m betting she knew in Madison County she would WIN the case but in HINDS county she might lose. This has ALL been orchestrated from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

She filed it in Hinds simply because she has no desire to win it. When you run for statewide office, you don't mess with the Blackmon and Blackmon Tribe. The woman is stupid, but she ain't THAT stupid.

Anonymous said...

@5:41. I don’t know but I will guess. My assumption is that there is a difference between misspending money and stealing money. For instance, while the CMU board members illegally spent funds when they paid legal fees for non board members, the board members didn’t actually get/keep/steal the money. But I ain’t no lawyer.

Anonymous said...

@8:09 Understood! But what about the Kickbacks. This sounds like kickbacks all around.

Anonymous said...

Is the Lanny Slaughter the same person currently on the MCEDA board and appointed by Supervisor Karl Banks in Madison County?
Reckon someone will suggest he come off that board?
Why would we want someone to do that?
What an embarrassment.

Conveniently the Board of Directors photo is removed from the MCEDA site.

Anonymous said...

"Before they filed, did anybody in her office ask Lynn Fitch if she has a problem with someone spending public monies on furniture??

Fitch has busied herself with refurbishing offices for at least 40 years. That's pumpkin-shit and totally outside the radar. The first thing you do when given a new public job (hello Haley), is buy a chair, a lamp and a three way extension cord.

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