November 24, 2020

Auditor’s office arrests former water association manager on charges of embezzlement, fraud

Today State Auditor Shad White announced Special Agents from his office arrested Joann Williams, former office manager of the Tri-County Water Association in Jasper County.

Williams was arrested for embezzlement and fraud after she was indicted by a grand jury assembled by District Attorney Matt Sullivan. The Auditor’s office conducted the investigation after the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance.

Williams is accused of stealing $32,475.06 from the water association. She allegedly added cell phone plans for her family members to the water association account and used a Tri-County credit card to fuel her personal vehicle – even after she was forced to resign. Investigators also determined she manipulated the payment software used by the water association to embezzle cash payments.

She was able to conceal her embezzlement and fraud from September 2011 to February 2019 because there was little oversight over her daily job duties. Like with many cases the Auditor’s office investigates, accounting inconsistencies were eventually found and reported.

Williams surrendered to Special Agents at the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office Thursday. The court ordered her release on her own recognizance.

“This case is yet another example of our work with our other partners in law enforcement around the state to put a stop to an embezzlement scheme,” said Auditor White. “For others around the state, whether you’re in law enforcement or not, if you see signs of fraud or embezzlement, call on the Auditor’s office to help root this out.”

If convicted, Williams faces up to 33 years in prison and $31,000 in fines. All persons arrested by the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The case will be prosecuted by the office of District Attorney Sullivan.

Suspected fraud can be reported to the Auditor’s office online any time by clicking the red button at the Auditor’s website or via telephone during normal business hours at 1-(800)-321-1275.