Biloxi Schools' former police chief gets more time added to prison sentence

Published: Aug. 21, 2018 at 2:03 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2018 at 12:44 PM CDT
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - After originally sentencing Biloxi School District's former Police Chief Paul Cannette to spend 4 years in prison, a judge resentenced Cannette to spend 4 and a half years to serve in prison Thursday.

Judge Roger Clark first sentenced Cannette to 10 years with 4 years suspended, 4 years to served in prison, followed by 2 years of house arrest and 3 years of post-release supervision with the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC).

Cannette pleaded guilty to embezzlement Tuesday morning.

Now, Cannette's sentence is 10 years with 5 and a half years suspended, 4 and a half years to serve in prison, followed by 5 years of post-release supervision and restitution owed of over $169,000.

Judge Clark said he was advised MDOC would interpret the original sentence differently than he intended, and it would require Cannette to serve more than the 4 years because of the addition of house arrest.

ADA Ian Baker argued that Cannette be sentenced the state's original recommendation of 20 years with 10 years suspended, 10 years served in prison, followed by 5 years of post-release supervision.

"[T]he sentence recommended by the State would provide the State and the Court with greater recourse to ensure the repayment of the nearly $170,000 of restitution owed in this case to the School Resource Officer's of the State of Mississippi," he said.

Prosecutors say he embezzled more than $169,000 from the Mississippi Association of School Resource Officers over the course of more than 600 transactions. Those transactions ranged from checks to ATM withdrawals, to direct deposits.

A fine of $2,000 will be suspended once restitution of the $169,865 is paid back to MASRO.

Cannette said he's not a gambler or abuser of alcohol or drugs. He said he did it because he wanted to provide a better life for his family.

He said he was able to get away with it because while he was already president of MASRO he also became the organization's treasurer when the treasurer at the time vacated the position. That left him as the only person with control over the account.

Cannette's attorney argued that the stolen funds won't directly impact Biloxi schools because Cannette embezzled from MASRO and not the school district. He also presented the judge with a packet of letters from former co-workers, friends, and family describing Cannette's good character.

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