PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Ginger Lynn Lashley has worked in the Jackson County finance department for years. Now she sits behind bars, accused of pocketing thousands of the same dollars her department was paid to protect.
"She's been employed for quite some time with the county and we've got to find out just exactly how much is missing," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd. "But we do know for 2009, that we have about $125,000 missing.
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said he suspects the final tally will be much higher after the investigation is complete. That's why he and District 3 Supervisor Mike Mangum said the county has suspended Lashley and called in the State Auditor for an independent investigation.
"They will be able to go through the books and actually see what has happened financially," Mangum said. "That's an independent source; not from within, so we'll get a good look at exactly what has happened."
"You know, we depend on the finance department to take care of the paying of our bills, and things of that nature," Byrd said. "And it just makes it hard when something like this happens. We put a lot of trust in those folks. And everybody in there is good people, but this was just an incident involving one of the employees."
Byrd also said he's unhappy this incident involves people's tax dollars.
"It's a betrayal of trust," Byrd said. "The people of Jackson County put their trust in the county and the workers and everything, and it's not good."
Mangum said he was surprised and disappointed to learn about the charges. He said the county has a system of checks and balances in place to prevent this from happening. He said it was one of those checks that raised authorities' attention to the alleged incident.
"We hate to think that an employee would do something illegal and to misappropriate some of the funds," Mangum said. "We want to try to analyze exactly what's happened here. If we want to tweak those checks and balances, we can, to ensure that it doesn't happen again."
Neither Mangum nor Byrd discussed the case in any more detail. They said the investigation is still in early stages, and more information could be released as things progress.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to discuss whether to terminate Lashley at their Monday meeting.