Co-conspirator in Hinds Co. election grant misspending case pleads guilty, DA says
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Sudie Jones-Teague, one of several co-conspirators charged in connection with misspending hundreds of thousands of dollars in Hinds County election grant funding first brought to light from a 3 On Your Side investigation, has pleaded guilty to six counts.
Monday, District Attorney Jody Owens announced that Jones-Teague had pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud and one count of bribery in connection with the scandal.
The county received more than $1.9 million in election grant funds, most of which came through the Mark Zuckerberg-backed Center for Tech and Civic Life.
Last year, a 3 On Your Side investigation into vendors selected for those election grant monies revealed Jones-Teague’s company, New Beginnings LLC, received $118,000 in election grant money to provide COVID-19 cleanings at election commission headquarters and the circuit clerk’s office, and to provide catering for training events.
Our findings also helped State Auditor Shad White’s investigators bring charges that led to initial indictments against Hinds County Election Commissioner Toni Johnson and Clinton businessman Cedric Cornelius, two alleged co-conspirators in the case.
White released a statement on social media after Jones-Teague’s plea.
“I’m grateful for the work of the investigators in my office and the prosecutors to get to this point,” White said. “This is one more step toward justice for the improper spending of election funds.”
As part of her plea agreement, Jones-Teague will testify against Johnson and Cornelius.
She has agreed to repay the county more than $81,000 in restitution.
Jones-Teague’s sentencing will be scheduled for a later date after the cases of Johnson and Cornelius are concluded.