Waveland Mayor Longo charged with embezzlement; denies wrongdoing

Tommy Longo (Photo source: MS State Auditor's Office)
Tommy Longo (Photo source: MS State Auditor's Office)
The Hancock Co. Sheriff's Department's booking facility where Tommy Longo was taken Friday morning.
The Hancock Co. Sheriff's Department's booking facility where Tommy Longo was taken Friday morning.

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) – Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo was arrested Friday morning and charged with embezzlement.  The three term mayor told WLOX News he doesn't understand the arrest and hinted political enemies could be behind it.

The indictment accuses Longo of using his city issued Fuelman credit card to buy gas for his private vehicle, between September 21, 2008 and August 30, 2009.

The indictment was issued by a Hancock County Grand Jury on Wednesday, January 20.  Longo was arrested at his house Friday morning and taken to the Hancock County Sheriff's Department's booking facility.

Hours after his arrest, Longo remained inside the booking facility.  A distraught Longo talked with WLOX News reporter Doug Walker by phone.  In that exclusive interview, Longo denied any wrongdoing.

"I am most concerned about my wife and children.  They are very upset.   They found out about this at school," Longo said.

Longo, 51, was elected mayor of the City of Waveland in 1998.  City elections are later this year.

"This is going to make a lot of people happy," Longo said, hinting that politics played a role in his arrest.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering alleges that Longo embezzled $1,116.84 in Fuelman purchases that were used in a personal vehicle and not in his government-issued vehicle.

"Although this embezzlement is not a large sum of money, I am committed to holding any government employee accountable to the taxpayers of Mississippi for embezzlement and fraud," said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. "An elected official must be held to the highest standard and using government funds for personal use will not be tolerated. Fuelman purchases have been scrutinized across the State because of the high risk of fraud, and our agents continue to look into allegations of embezzlement involving these purchases."

This is not the first time Longo's handling of public money has come into question.  In May 2000, the State Auditor demanded Longo repay the city more than $21,000.  That order followed an eight month investigation of Longo's use of a public vehicle for personal use.

Longo, a democrat, is currently near the end of his third term as mayor.

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