Former Mississippi coroner charged with embezzlement

Published 6:15 am Friday, March 24, 2023

A former coroner for a south Mississippi county was indicted on several charges, including embezzlement, the state auditor announced Thursday.

Former Hancock County Coroner James Faulk also faces three counts of false representations to defraud the government and one count of alteration of records, according to State Auditor Shad White. Faulk was issued a demand letter of about $22,000, White’s office said in a news release.

In Mississippi, coroners are paid fees based on the services they perform. Faulk is alleged to have submitted and altered fraudulent invoices to the Hancock County Board of Supervisors between February and March of 2021. As a result of the alleged fraud, he was paid about $13,000, White’s office said.

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“My office will continue to take a zero-tolerance policy to misuse of public funds, regardless of whether the case is big or small,” White said.

A $50,000 surety bond covers Faulk’s employment as the Hancock County Coroner. Surety bonds are similar to insurance designed to protect taxpayers from corruption. Faulk will remain liable for the full amount of the demand in addition to criminal proceedings.

A telephone listing for Faulk could not be located and it was unclear if he had an attorney.

Faulk’s indictment comes more than a year after Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents executed at least two search warrants at his home and office in Hancock County. His certification as a coroner was suspended in March 2021, and Faulk resigned from his post in July 2021, saying he was doing so because he had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.