Ex-Mississippi housing authority leader admits to stealing money to buy clothes, perfume, even champagne glasses

Published 11:19 am Monday, January 27, 2020

Barbara Thedford Skipper, 51, of Hazlehurst, pleaded guilty last week before U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves to stealing federal funds, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Jerome Winkle with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) Office of Inspector General (“OIG”).

From 2015 through 2017, while serving as Executive Director for the Hazlehurst Housing Authority, Skipper knowingly converted and misapplied funds from the Housing Authority’s operating account to her own use.

Operating account funds are designed to assist the Housing Authority with the upkeep of public housing residential living conditions. Such public housing is established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

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In the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Skipper utilized Hazlehurst Housing Authority’s operating account to purchase personal items, including, but not limited to, clothing, perfume, countertop ice makers, electronic tablets, cookware, a fitness wristband, portable boom box, champagne flutes, Fire TV stick and several gift cards.

It was also discovered that Skipper made unauthorized purchases from an online retailer and made payments to her personal Bank of America credit card from the Housing Authority operating account. The total amount of loss was $57,202.

Skipper will be sentenced by Judge Reeves on April 22, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as restitution.

The case is the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Keesha Middleton.