A year later, results not in for Moss Point state audit

A year later, results not in for Moss Point state audit
(Photo Source: WLOX News)

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - It's been exactly one year since Moss Point first announced allegations of internal illegal financial activity in its utilities and police department.

WLOX News Now filed for public records with outlines of some of those accounts associated with those allegations. The station has yet to receive the results of a state audit first initiated in October of 2016.

For Moss Point Mayor Mario King, this issue loomed over city hall before he even took office.

The allegations are the of misappropriation of funding in the police department, as well as $3.4 million dollars unaccounted for in the utilities department.

"From a city's stand point, what I've done is put in place checks and balances," said King.

Mayor King says they've concluded at least part of the investigation. They wont pursue any charges in the police department allegations because King says those weren't tax payer dollars.

"What we've done to correct that issue, that account has been taken off any city books and it's not associated with the city and it's an auxiliary account," he said.

The utilities department is a more complicated issue. The state auditors office was asked to conduct an investigation into the department. A year later, it's not complete with no timeline on when it will be finished.

King stated, "My hope is that we bring this to close by January and somehow be able to give the community some relief on this."

Mayor King doesn't believe anyone previously employed by the utilities department is responsible for that $3.4 million deficit.

"When you look at people who owe money and passed away, we look at vacant lots that owe money, so that could very well be a million dollars. As far as an individual being responsible for $3.4 million in theft or even a million dollars, that isn't true," the mayor said.

He notes that if there is any illegal activity, he will follow the advice of the state on how to resolve it.

"They'll tell us what they found in their investigation, and then they make a recommendation to the district attorney, then the DA works with us to determine what charges they're going to file against the individual," King said.

While King says he's unsure of when they will get those results back from the audit, the city is taking other steps to recover some of that deficit. King says they've taken 30 utility theft cases, in the form of illegal hookups, to court over the past 2 weeks.

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