Mason mayor and board of aldermen under fire after $100K embezzlement

(WMC-TV) – A Mid-South mayor and aldermen are being called out by the state for allowing a city employee to steal from residents for years.

The Tennessee state auditor had some very strong words for the mayor and board of aldermen in Mason, Tennessee. Auditors want to know how $100,000 can be embezzled without anyone putting in controls to stop it from happening again.

"I think that everybody that handles our money should have accountability because when we pay our tax dollars, we expect them to be handled in the right manner," resident Linnie Agnew said.

But the Tennessee state controller said in his letter to the Mason mayor and board of aldermen that taxpayer dollars have not been looked after properly for six years.

It started with former town clerk Arnita Mitchell, who pleaded guilty to embezzling almost $100,000 from the small town of Mason in 2009.

State auditor Dennis Dycus wrote in a strongly worded letter, "That's almost $100 from every man, woman and child living in the town. She was allowed to embezzle such a large amount of money because you, the mayor and board of aldermen, have refused to implement even the most basic system of internal controls, therefore, providing ample opportunity for anyone responsible for the financial affairs of the town to more or less take whatever they wanted to, which they did."

"I'm trying to get it addressed as quickly as I can," explains Mason Mayor David Ward.

Mayor Ward says he was shocked by what the auditor said, and that it was the first letter he had received.

District Attorney Mike Dunavant doesn't seem to feel the mayor should be shocked. He says it appears to be willful neglect.

"I have some significant concerns about their compliance with their statutory duties," he says.

Dunavant told WMC-TV by phone that if something isn't done quickly he could proceed with the ousting of Mason Mayor David Ward.

Dunavant says he is encouraged that the mayor has called a meeting of the board of aldermen on Thursday to start addressing the problems. The state will also work with the town.

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