Today State Auditor Shad White announced his office returned over $350,000 to Mississippi taxpayers on Thursday after investigations by the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor determined public funds were stolen or misused. Significant amounts were recovered from John Cullen, Mary Washington, and Jerome Wyatt.
The State Auditor’s Office recovered approximately $126,000 in January from former CEO of Payliance, John Cullen. He received a demand letter after Payliance took economic development funds from the Mississippi Development Authority and relocated to Ohio without creating jobs in Mississippi. This case has been paid in full.
Mary Washington was issued a demand after she paid “tithes” to multiple churches using public money in her position as Chancery Clerk of Noxubee County. The Auditor’s office has recovered all funds misused by Washington.
Special Agents from the Office of the State Auditor arrested Jones County Supervisor Jerome Wyatt in October 2018 after he was indicted for fraud and embezzlement. He allegedly approved fraudulent overtime payments and took money from a youth mentorship program and from the scrapping of a County-owned vehicle. Wyatt has repaid the full amount of the demand issued to him, but criminal charges are still pending.
“As your state auditor, nothing is more gratifying than returning money to the taxpayers. Returning stolen money means a community might have another police car or park or new school textbooks,” said State Auditor Shad White. “I will continue to work to not only identify embezzlement and fraud but also to put money back where it belongs.”
Since being appointed in July 2018, State Auditor Shad White has issued demands for approximately $3 million in stolen or misspent public money on behalf of Mississippi taxpayers. Once recovered by the Auditor’s office, the money is returned to the agencies, counties, municipalities, or other government entities to which it belongs.
Fraud and embezzlement can be reported to the Office of the State Auditor online any time by clicking the red button at www.osa.ms.gov or via telephone during normal business hours at 1-(800)-321-1275.