Ex-investigator for district attorney admits he stole public money

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

A former investigator for a Mississippi district attorney’s office has been convicted of embezzlement after authorities said he deposited thousands of dollars of court fees into his own bank account.

Joe Edney pleaded guilty Monday in Tunica County Circuit Court, the office of state Auditor Shad White said in a news release Tuesday. A sentencing date has not been set. The punishment for an embezzlement conviction is up to 20 years in prison.

Edney is a former investigator for the district attorney in the 11th Circuit Court District, which includes Bolivar, Coahoma, Quitman and Tunica counties. Agents from the auditor’s office arrested Edney in October after he was indicted.

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District Attorney Brenda Mitchell told the auditor that her office had found a discrepancy in the court fees, and the attorney general’s office prosecuted the case against Edney.

The auditor’s office said Edney used his position overseeing a pre-trial diversion program to take more than $3,500 that people paid for court fees in Bolivar and Quitman counties from August 2013 to March 2018. That was the basis for the embezzlement charge.

Edney also failed to deposit $2,200 worth of money orders, causing a loss to the district attorney’s office, the auditor said. That amount was not part of the criminal case but was handled as a civil case.

The auditor’s office issued a letter demanding that Edney pay more than $14,000 to cover the misused money, interest and investigative costs. White said his office has recovered the full amount and returned money to the district attorney’s office.