by Ashley Porter - email
JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - The state auditor's office just released its annual report revealing government officials who have misused more than $1.4 million taxpayer tax dollars.
"We return it to the local jurisdictions or to the state agency where the money was originally intended to go," State Auditor Stacey Pickering said.
Pickering is required to compile the audit exceptions report every year.
"The whole purpose is to get the taxpayers' money back where it was originally intended."
But not all of the 120 listed debts have been repaid. Number three is in Jones County. Last year, former Deputy Chancery Clerk Natalie Brooke Ward was accused of embezzling $268,000.
"We're going to trial. I actually believe that's scheduled for later this month. The individual, she has not pled guilty," Pickering said.
Number two is in Jefferson County. The report said five school board members and the former superintendent allegedly borrowed money illegally two years ago.
"Looking for, hopefully, in the next year to get some resolution," Pickering said of the case.
They've paid back some of the money, but still owe more than a million dollars.
"This is one of those cases where sometimes it takes multiple years to make these payments back."
And number one is in Hinds County, where a judge will decide if the Langston Law Firm owes the state $14 million. Former lawyer Joey Langston was one of two men representing the state in the tax settlement case against MCI.
"Settled $100 million for the state of Mississippi, but also in the process, negotiated his own legal fees," Pickering said.
But the Langston Law Firm says the $14 million it received wasn't from public funds. The case is currently being decided in Hinds County Circuit Court.
"We'd love to see a decrease in fraud, but, unfortunately, during tough economic times, our expectations are just the opposite," Pickering said.