Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering’s office is working to collect almost $102,000 in taxpayer funds owed by deceased Oktibbeha County Chancery Clerk Monica Banks.
The annual state auditor’s report of Fiscal Year 2017 exceptions listed two Golden Triangle embezzlement claims in the Golden Triangle — one against Banks and another against Susan Holder, a former Mississippi State University employee indicted last year for taking more than $25,000 in grant funds awarded to the 4-H Foundation.
While the state auditor’s office issued a formal demand to Holder last year for $81,946.47 and her case progresses through Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, Pickering spokesperson Logan Reeves said his office is pursuing restitution through the holder of Banks’ public bond as an elected official. Banks, 58, died in September 2016 after a lengthy illness.
The Dispatch could not determine the identity of the bond holder by press time.
“Our investigations team had enough information to file this demand, and they’re in the process of delivering that information to the company,” he said. “It’s in progress.”
Banks, along with former Circuit Clerk Glenn Hamilton, made last year’s state auditor’s list of exceptions. While Hamilton’s $21,501 in excess was noted as “paid in full and settled,” Banks’ then owed $74,218 in taxpayer funding.
When contacted in 2016 about the balance, Banks contested the state auditor’s report and said a bulk of the alleged misappropriations came from disallowed purchases — those made by her office but later disallowed by auditors — since 2010.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer confirmed the county was alerted to the state auditor’s demand last month.
Since its issuance, the board has not discussed the demand during a regular meeting.
“I know she was having challenges — with health and with the auditor — but I guess hindsight is 20/20. That kind of response — I’m sure that didn’t make matters any better,” he said. “I’m sure that was quite a heavy burden to carry for her. None of us expected her demise, and I’m sure all of that didn’t help.”
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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