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Auditor revises figures in supervisors probe
by Steve Beavers
Aug 08, 2014 | 114 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Mississippi Office of the State Auditor released updated figures in its investigation into spending of the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors.

Initial numbers presented to supervisors July 18 included spending of previous supervisors, according to communications director Brett Kittredge.

"The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30," said Kittredge. "Therefore the totals presented at the board meeting, which were for Fiscal Year 2012-2014, included the last three months of the previous supervisor terms."

State Auditor Stacey Pickering presented supervisors with copies of a warrant and affidavit for county purchase clerk Paul Rhodes’ arrest along with a few charts he said show discrepancies in the district’s spending.

One report showed spending on food for prisoners from January 2012 through January 2014 with District 2 totaling the most at $12,945.85. The office found $866.43 of that total was spent by a previous supervisor, lowering the new total to $12,079.42.

The other four district figures also changed with totals coming from January of 2012 to date. District 1's current spending was found to be $5,175.82 after $567.43 was found to have been spent in a previous term, dating from Oct.-Dec. of 2011.

The new District 3 total is $5,433.17 after $999.74 was spent in a previous fiscal year. The changed number for District 4 is $3,944.71 after $608.07 was discovered to have been spent by a previous administration. In District 5, the total is $3,848.15. The auditor's office found $349.47 of the previous total was spent in 2011.

Spending on illegal dump cleanups from fiscal 2012 to date remained the same in District 2. The figure is $60,685.25.

The total of District 3 – $10,590 – was all found to have been used by a previous supervisor. The District 1 total changed from $17,785 to $4,525 after the investigation turned up $13,260 spent by the previous term.

Both District 4 and 5 had no spending on the removal of trash illegally dumped.

The auditor's office began the investigation after a complaint of embezzlement against District 2 Supervisor Dal Nelms.

According to the warrant presented to supervisors in July, the complaint received last December alleged that Nelms “was purchasing items through the county and converting them to personal use, taking gas and other county supplies and converting them to personal use, and using county funds to clear fictitious garbage dump sites.

During the investigation by Special Agent Bo Howard of the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office in the matter, it was discovered Rhodes had been sneaking into the meeting room of the supervisors and using his phone to take photos of the investigator’s notes. The warrant says Rhodes sent the photos to Nelms by text message to help him cover up the embezzlement crimes.

Rhodes, free on $10,000 bond, is currently on administrative leave.

(Writer Jebb Johnston contributed to this article.)
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