WIGGINS, MS (WLOX) - Residents of the small City of Wiggins are in shock after learning that two local women are accused of embezzling hundreds of thousand of dollars from their places of employment.
According to Stone County Sheriff's Department the cases are separate, but officials say the women are friends and neighbors and one investigation led them to uncover the second.
Former lead teller at The Bank of Wiggins, Veronica Morse, is charged with embezzling $162,000 from the bank.
Stone County Sheriff's Department Investigator Eddie Rogers said when the bank figured out money was missing, an internal investigation began and then the bank called in the sheriff's department.
"She was basically embezzling $2,000 to $5,000 at a time, sometimes between two and three times a week," Rogers said.
Rogers said Morse has been very cooperative.
"She admitted to, in the course of three years, from 2010 to 2012, taking an estimated $162,000," Rogers said.
Investigators say while looking into the case, another financial red flag popped up. They said evidence showed Morse deposited numerous checks into Tina Gillespie's account.
"In the process we discovered a large amount of checks were being deposited there, lots of checks, in fact this box is full of checks," Rogers said. "They are neighbors and friends."
Investigators said the checks going into Gillespie's account were all from the Stone County Economic Development Partnership where Gillespie works as the executive secretary.
As investigators began to dig deeper, the Stone County EDP began its own investigation after a check bounced.
"One of the things that kind of drew attention to both of these people was the excess of material things, buying new cars, buying boats, taking trips, spending a lot of money," Rogers said.
Gillespie allegedly embezzled more than $317,000. And Rogers said she offered her employer an electronic confession.
"She sent a text message to the executive director which basically apologized for what was happening and admitted she was guilty of fraud and forging checks," Rogers said. "And that she had done this for the past three years and had literally drained the EDP, which she did."
The Stone County EDP is closed until further notice. It's director wouldn't talk with WLOX News about this case. However, Rogers said he was told employees are re-organizing and checking the financial logs.
Authorities were set to arrest Gillespie on Monday, but learned she was in the hospital recovering from an overdose of pills. She was released and booked at the Stone County Regional Correctional Facility on Friday. She made her initial appearance before Judge Jeffrey O'Neal on Friday also.
Wednesday Keesler Federal Credit Union contacted investigators and told them Gillespie also had an account there and numerous Stone County EDP checks had been deposited, so Rogers says the amount Gillespie will be accused of embezzling is expected to exceed $317,000.