Pine straw fraud case against husband & wife team - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Pine straw fraud case against husband & wife team

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RANKIN COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A Clinton couple will appear before a Rankin County Judge April 20th in a massive scheme to defraud Rankin County Schools.

Malcolm and Dolister Sanders, owners of Sanders Lawn Service, were charged with billing the district for $80,000 worth of pine straw, to be used on school grounds, that was never delivered.

The couple gave their address as 109 Lake Forest Lane in Clinton, which is in an area just north of Highway 80 to the west of downtown Clinton.

There is evidence of yard equipment in the their back yard.

The couple had been employed by the Rankin County Schools for school ground maintenance, since 2005.

They were being paid almost $250,000 a year to maintain school grounds.

But, authorities now say they charged the school district for over $80,000 worth of pine straw that was never delivered.

The scheme was broken up by State Auditor Stacy Pickering.

"Whether you serve on a school board, a city council, county board of supervisors, or any other board appointed or elected, you have a responsibility to make sure what you are paying for is actually accounted for and is actually received as a government entity," State Auditor Pickering said. "So that should be happening on all contracts, to make sure what the taxpayers are paying for."

The Rankin County District Attorney Michael Guest, who has children in the Rankin County School System was particularly upset with the scheme and went before a grand jury to get the indictments.

"It makes me angry that some people are defrauding our children, the money that was paid for lawn service, but was not performed is taken out of our school budget," Rankin Co. District Attorney Guest said. "$80,000 that easily could have funded a position in the schools, teacher, teacher assistant."

We went to the Rankin County School District Headquarters in Brandon to try to talk to Superintendent Lynn Weathersby.

We were told he was in a meeting, to leave our name and number.

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