Auditor returns nearly $500,000 to taxpayers after investigations

Published 1:15 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Mississippi State Auditor’s Office has recovered nearly a half-million dollars from previous investigations.

State Auditor Shad White announced in a news release Tuesday that his office returned $444,772.26 after previous investigations showed public funds were stolen or misused.

Significant amounts were returned from cases involving the City of Columbus, Canton Municipal Utilities, and the City of Pascagoula:

  • Former Chief Financial Officer of the City of Columbus, Milton Rawle, was arrested for embezzlement in August 2020. The Auditor’s office has now recovered $242,951.13 for Columbus. Rawle still faces criminal charges in Lowndes County.
  • Auditors issued a $13,986.86 demand to the law firm Blackmon and Blackmon, PLLC and several members of the Canton Municipal Utilities Board for misappropriation of public funds in August. The board members voted to pay public money to the law firm for personal representation. The demand has been paid in full by the firm.
  • Special Agents from the Auditor’s office issued separate June 2019 demand letters to Robert Parker and Joseph Huffman, the former city comptroller and former city manager of Pascagoula, respectively. Parker and Huffman mismanaged bond proceeds and failed to accurately portray the city’s finances, which resulted in a financial loss to the City. Both demands totaling $54,215.17 have now been paid in full.

These cases represent only a portion of the recently recovered public funds, the news release said.

“As always, I’m proud of the work of the team at the Auditor’s office to return money to the taxpayers,” said Auditor White. “What we do is not for show. We investigate, move cases to completion, and successfully return money to where it belongs.”

Suspected fraud can be reported to the Auditor’s office online any time by clicking the red “Report Fraud” button at www.osa.ms.gov or via telephone during normal business hours at 1-(800)-321-1275.