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State auditor fighting corruption for taxpayers

When I was first appointed State Auditor in July 2018, I was determined to chase down fraud, theft, and embezzlement from you, the taxpayers.

In that time, I am proud of the work the law enforcement team at the auditor’s office has done and how much we have recovered.

As we move further into 2021, it’s a good time to update you on some of the local cases that my investigators have been working on to help protect your money.

In early February, Amanda Lewis, former town clerk of Roxie in Franklin County, was arrested for embezzlement.

Lewis is accused stealing cash and money orders collected from town residents as they paid water bills.

Without proper oversight, Lewis was purportedly able to conceal her scheme from December 2015 until August 2018. After leaving the office to take a new job, town officials identified money missing from the water fund and filed a complaint with my office.

OSA Investigators then identified over $80,000 missing from the fund.

After being approached about the missing money by town officials, Lewis made payments totaling $9,269.53.

These payments have already been credited to her demand amount to begin the process of repaying the taxpayers of Roxie. And even though a $50,000 surety bond covers Lewis’s employment as Town Clerk of Roxie, she will remain liable for the full amount of the demand.

In November 2020, Kimberly Davis, former deputy municipal clerk in the Town of Monticello, was arrested after a grand jury indicted her for embezzlement and alteration of records. Davis is accused of taking cash meant to pay for water bills. From January 2018 to February 2019, she allegedly stole approximately $19,000 from the Town water department.

A few years ago, my office issued a civil demand to the estate of the former Chancery Clerk, Thomas Tolliver Jr. The demand states that Tolliver exceeded the fee cap for his position and failed to reimburse the county for employee salary expenses.

The taxpayers of Wilkinson County are owed a sizeable amount for money Mr. Tolliver never should have paid, the result of years of mishandling money.

The total demand issued to Tolliver’s estate was $673,094.91 and included investigative costs and interest. The case was transmitted to the Office of the Attorney General June 5, 2019. For Fiscal Year 2020, payment from the bond companies was received in the amount of $375,000.00, leaving a balance of $298,094.91 left to be paid.

So often, the effort put in by the law enforcement officers and investigators in the auditor’s office happens out of view of the cameras and press, but I could not be more thankful for their invaluable work.

Their efforts are crucial when it comes to safeguarding public funds and ensuring that those who choose to break the law are held accountable.

As I made clear when I took this job, protecting your tax dollars is my highest priority. And as long as I am your State Auditor, my team and I will continue to make sure that happens.

You deserve a team that works just as hard to protect your money as you worked to earn it in the first place. That is what we aim to do.

Shad White is the 42nd State Auditor of Mississippi.

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