Mississippi town clerk pleads guilty to embezzling thousands from funds collected from water and sewer bills

Published 5:12 pm Monday, March 20, 2023

A former Mississippi town clerk has pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of dollars from water and sewage funds collected from residents’ bills.

On Monday, State Auditor Shad White announced Stephanie Churchill has pleaded guilty to embezzlement in Benton County Circuit Court. Churchill, a former Town Clerk of Hickory Flat, was indicted and arrested for embezzlement in April of 2022. The guilty plea was recorded in Judge J. Kelley Luther’s courtroom.

Churchill embezzled Hickory Flat Water and Sewage Department funds by not depositing the funds collected from water and sewage bills from October 2018 through February 2021. Special Agents presented a $104,256.92 demand letter to Churchill upon her arrest. The Auditor’s office has already recovered $50,000 from a surety bond company and returned it back to Hickory Flat taxpayers. Churchill was ordered to pay $55,850.42 in restitution and other court fees.

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“We will continue to work with prosecutors, who make decisions about when to charge someone with a crime, to achieve results for the taxpayers,” said State Auditor Shad White. “My office has investigated more than 100 people whom prosecutors have chosen to indict in my time in office, and we will continue to build a track record of being tough on perpetrators.”

Churchill is now convicted of a felony offense and will never be able to handle public money again. Judge Luther’s sentencing order has been filed with the Benton Circuit Clerk’s Office for public inspection.

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