A Biloxi School District principal, a former school superintendent in Coffeeville and another suspect arrested this week are accused of conspiracy to commit fraud and other crimes for allegedly creating a fraudulent business for educational counsulting, according to Mississippi State Auditor Shad White.
Former Coffeeville School Superintendent Vivian Robinson and alleged co-conspirators Melissa Dawn Nance, the current principal at Nichols Elementary School in Biloxi, and Tammy Briggs, 60, have been arrested on charges of fraudulent statements/representations, conspiracy, and obtaining an object of value with intent to defraud.
The trio allegedly created a fraudulent business meant to provide educational consulting but provided “minimal services” to fraudulently obtain $45,000 from the Coffeeville School District, the release said.
“For the second time in a month, we’ve identified money that should have benefited public school students that was misspent,” White said in the release. “We will work with prosecutors in this case to protect the interests of those students and the taxpayers.”
Each of the suspects received demand letters from the state auditor’s office to pay back $84,171 that includes the amount taken along with interest and investigative expenses, White said.
The Gulfport Police Department, Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department arrested the suspects.
Authorities in Harrison County and Gulfport arrested Nance, 56, and Briggs in South Mississippi.
Nance was placed into police custody Wednesday while she was attending Biloxi school meetings in preparation for the upcoming school year. Nance has been placed on administrative leave.
After Nance’s arrest, the Biloxi School District released a statement saying the charges are unrelated to her position or activities in the Biloxi Public School District.
“At this time, Mrs. Nance has been placed on administrative leave while this issue is resolved,” said Jennifer Pyron, communications specialist for the district. “Mrs. Nance is a long-time employee and principal with an excellent record of success in the Biloxi Public School District. As we await the outcome of these allegations, we will continue to cooperate fully with the State Auditor’s Office.”