Auditor's report unveils money that may not get paid back - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Auditor's report unveils money that may not get paid back

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By Ashley Conroy

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The state auditor's office released their annual "Exceptions Report" that outlines cases of "misspending" or "misuse" of taxpayer dollars.

However, hundreds of thousands of dollars from embezzlement and money laundering cases may never get paid back.

In the 36 page report, State Auditor Stacey Pickering outlines recovering $4.7 million as of June 30, 2010.

"Nine times out of ten, we're able to get the full amount in immediately upon an inclusion of a case or shortly there after," Pickering said.

However, several cases in the report could prove differently. In Hinds County, Michael Walters was charged in 2005 with money laundering and charged with 18 months in prison. As of 2010, Walter's still owes $125,085.13. Last year, he paid $1,000; at this rate it would take Walter's 125 years to pay back the full amount.

"There are some cases where we have individuals, either under court order, or through mutual agreement are paying in on installments as they can," Pickering said.

Another case from Winston County, former Deputy Tax Collector Angie Tidwell was charged with embezzling $260,228.54. Last year, Tidwell paid $3,826. At this rate, it would take Tidwell 67 years to pay back the $256,402.54 she still owes.

One of the largest cases in the report was from Yalobusha County, where former Owner/Manager of Mississippi Beef Processors Richard Hall Jr. was charged with money laundering and mail fraud. He owes $548,085.59, and the report says last year a payment in the amount of $75 was received.

"In this situation it's the taxpayers of the state of Mississippi that are owed this money from Richard Hall and he's serving out his prison term." Pickering continued, "We're going to continue to hold him accountable and hopefully recoupe as much of that money as absolutely possible."

Pickering says this could mean going back and revisiting a case with the courts. Nonetheless, he says payments of these installments will take time.

"It's going to be a slow steady, installment plan in order to meet the balance," said Pickering.

To view the entire report go to: http://www.osa.ms.gov/documents/investigative/inv2010.pdf

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