Friday, December 10, 2021

Insurance Company Pays $243,362 for Kenny Wayne & CMU Crew

 An insurance company paid $243,362 to the State Auditor for sweetheart spending by the CMU Board of Commissioners.  CMU Commissioners splurged on credit cards, paid illegal severance pay, and covered personal attorneys fees for commissioners. However, the commissioners and former CEO Kenny Wayne Jones are not off the hook because the insurance company sued them for repayment.

The State Auditor issued a demand for repayment over three years ago after JJ reported the illegal spending in January 2018. The Attorney General finally sued current and former CMU commissioners Cleotha Williams, Charles Morgan, Lannie Slaughter, Kelvish Nason, Isiac Jackson, Cleveland Anderson, Robert Chinn, Jewel Williams, Stacey Spencer, Silbrina Wright as well as former CEO Kenny Wayne Jones and Western Surety Company in October for various repayments. Western Surety Company paid the claims.

There were three sets of offenses so each one will be dealt with separately.

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

Western Surety admitted the payments were a breach of duty by the commissioners.  The insurance company intends to go after the commissioners for repayment of the misspent funds. It stated in its cross-claim against the commissioners:

Western has tendered to the Office of State Auditor (“OSA”) the sum of the sum of $128,515.17 representing the principal amount of attorneys’ fees approved for payment by those  four  named  individuals,  plus  interest  and  investigative  costs  arising  from  those individuals’  affirmative  action  on  March  7,  2017.   Pursuant  to  their  written  indemnity obligations,  the  Cross-Claim defendants  named  in  Paragraph  7  of  this  Cross-Claim are liable, jointly and severally, to Western in the minimal sum of $128,515.17 representing principal, interest and investigative costs related to the unauthorized payment of attorneys’ fees as alleged in the Complaint plus pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees incurred as a consequence of issuing its bond and all other such costs.


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 commissioners voted unanimously on January 16, 2018 to pay $75,000 to the former CEO in exchange for a confidential settlement agreement after firing him. Mr. Jones took the money and ran. 

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

The Attorney General 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

Western Surety paid $104,396 to settle this claim. The cross-claim states:

8.   As surety for Cleotha Williams, Lannie C. Slaughter, Isaic Jackson, Kelvin Nason and Robert Chinn, Western has tendered to OSA the sum of $104,396 relating to those  five  individuals’  affirmative  action  as  alleged  in  the  Complaint  approving  the unauthorized settlement with Kenneth W. Jones, together with interest and investigative costs as determined by OSA.  Pursuant to their written indemnity obligations, the aforesaid individuals are liable to Western, jointly and severally, in the minimal sum of $104,396 representing  principal,  interest  and  investigative  costs  relating  to  the  unauthorized settlement   with   Kenneth   W.  Jones,   plus   pre-judgment  and   post-judgment  interest, attorneys’ fees incurred as a consequence of issuing its bond and all other such costs.

Mr. Jones may be due for a few headaches. The insurance company said:

As a result of Western’s payment to OSA of $104,396 representing the principal amount of the unauthorized payment of a settlement agreement with Kenneth W. Jones, together with interest and investigative costs, Kenneth W. Jones has a common law indemnity  obligation  to  Western  and  is  liable  to  Western  in  the  minimal  sum  of $128,515.17, plus pre-judgment and post-judgment interest until fully paid, attorneys’ fees and all other such costs.


 Illegal Credit Card Payments

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

The complaint claims Anderson, Morgan, Williams, Slaughter, Jewel Williams, Chinn, Spencer, and Wright made more than a few purchases of jewelry, gifts, booze, and food on CMU credit cards. 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 insurance company paid $10,451 for the credit card charges. However, the defendants may not be out of the woods just yet:

Pursuant to their common law indemnity obligations, the aforesaid individuals are liable to Western, jointly and severally, in the minimal sum of $10,451.76, together with pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and all such other costs.


Western Surety may have paid but it's going to get paid if it has its way. It filed a cross-claim against the defendants on December 1 and asked the court to award $128,515 against Morgan, Slaughter, Anderson, and Williams. The company seeks pre-– and post – judgment interest as well as attorneys fees for the illegal payment of the personal attorneys fees.

Kenny Wayne might need a case of aspirin.  The insurance company seeks $104,396 plus various forms of interest against him, Anderson, Williams, Slaughter, Nason, and Chinn for the illegal payment of the severance pay. Western Surety seeks $10,451 from Anderson, Williams, Morgan, Spencer, and Chinn for improper use of the credit cards.

The State Auditor's Office said it forwarded $231,887 to CMU after deducting its investigative fees.


Anonymous said...

CNA is the business name of Western Surety. I bet they never read what an indemnity agreement is when paying these bond premiums. The surety company can, and will, come get your shit to pay for them having to call the bonds.

Anonymous said...

Lee O. Sanderlin, here's an easy Friday story to rip off. But don't run it until sometime next week thinking you'll fool everyone into believing it is your original reporting. We'll keep the secret between us. ;) Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Ellis Turnage, Adrienne Wooten and Ed Blackmon. Who could ask for more?

Anonymous said...

Ha! 10:18 pointing out the indemnity provisions of the bond agreement. Choice. The surety has cut its losses. No way in hell they throw good money after bad trying to pursue a recovery from these Cantonian piece of shit assclowns.

Anonymous said...

Credit cards you say ?

Anonymous said...

So, has the CMU already spent the $231,887? New luxury cars? Trip to the Paris Air Show?

Anonymous said...

For all of you naysayers re: the state auditor not doing anything about the CMU...suck eggs.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of KWJ and credit cards...........

Anonymous said...

There is little or no justification for public employees to have credit cards. For travel get a cash advance or seek reimbursement.

Anonymous said...

So when does the local District attorney file criminal charges against them? Perhaps the DA is afraid it might cost him some votes in Canton. The thieves should get jail time.

Anonymous said...

This is why you buy insurance in the first place …. Tax payers should always get their monies worth out of those crazy premiums . Why but it if you can’t collect.

Anonymous said...

10:47, me thinks he fears the wrath of the Truly one.

Anonymous said...

No way any of these folks should EVER work with taxpayer funds EVER again and most importantly EVER get a g-damn credit card. WTF.

Anonymous said...

Is this the reason the city of canton bought a non existent hurricane insurance policy from a Canton insider?

Anonymous said...

Crazy world. Bonding companies must ask for this pain. What bonding company would bond KWJ in Hinds county position. Stupid or greedy.

Anonymous said...

And now Kenny Wayne runs Hinds County. I am shocked, but probably should not be.
"Meet the new boss same as the old boss." The Who.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Bramlett is concerned about Truly, Blackmon or the dog fighting crowd,et al. A more appropriate concern is why our State Attorney General sat on her ass and hesitate to prosecute.

Anonymous said...

@6:20 pm
Great point! What charges would AG file?
Maybe she will surprise us.

Anonymous said...

The CMU issues started under John Wallace. $22,570,015 in illegal transfers to the city of Canton just since 2000. Also in excess of $1,200,000 in debt forgiveness. Also forgiveness of the the city's electrical bill and other benefits totaling over $88,000 annually. Those numbers are from depositions, records, and testimony in the Canton annexation case. Ex-CMU manager Stephen Thompson stopped the illegal practices. And CMU was dragged into the PSC courtroom over illegal rates charged to those customers in Lake Caroline, also implemented under John Wallace.

Kingfish said...

What criminal charges? The board approved the spending. Absent a showing of kickbacks or bribery, what criminal law did they break?

Anonymous said...

Malfeasance, misfeasance, non-feasance. But, you're right, KF, no way KWJ would take a kickback or use credit cards for personal gain. My bad.

Anonymous said...

The same Silbrina Wright who was involved with FAIM?

Anonymous said...

No worries, as Kenny Wayne will use his county credit card to pay the bill.

Anonymous said...

Come on Kingfish. Using the CMU credit card to purchase personal items such as jewelry is illegal.

Anonymous said...

New credit card, same as old credit card, right Kenny?

Anonymous said...

Still no coverage of JSU and the swac championship on this site? $30 million plus in economic impact for the city of Jackson…. lol the gate is real.

Anonymous said...

Still no coverage of JSU and the swac championship on this site? $30 million plus in economic impact for the city of Jackson ...

$30m for the season, not the game itself, which means at the base rate an incremental bump of ~$390,000 ($388,500) into the CofJ coffers. That doesn't include the special collections that pay for pre-determined spends like the colossal Convention Center mistake. All chump change, really, when you consider the money debacle that is the inability to bill and collect for utilities.

VisitJackson economic impact estimates are legendary puffery.

You Can't Make This Up said...

Jackson water department is blaming the latest billing problems on...wait for it...daylight savings time change.

Anonymous said...

How does a thread morph from Canton Municipal Utility's surety bond to Jackson State playing football?

Asking for Mississippi State's baseball team.

Anonymous said...

Breaking: Hinds County Board of Supervisors goes into executive session to discuss whether to retain or fire K.W.Jones.

In your dreams.

Anonymous said...

What qualifications does Kenny have to have any kind of desk job? He couldn’t even take your order at McDonald’s. Dumb as a brick. Who thought it a good idea to give him a responsibility? Ever

Anonymous said...

7:02 - Simple. He knows where all the bodies are buried and has the connections needed to run a business with a foundation of graft, dishonesty and corruption.

Same reason the banking industry, seventy years ago, hired ex safe-crackers.

Anonymous said...

Truth be known, within the confines of Canton, on a per capita basis, Canton hosts meetings of more crooked politicians, executives, professionals and consultants than any other town in America.

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