Former Southaven mayor stands trial for 2nd time for embezzlement, fraud

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

LAFAYETTE COUNTY, MS (WMC) - Former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis is standing trial for a second time on charges of embezzlement and defrauding the city during his time in office.

But this time he will stand before a judge 70 miles away from Southaven.

The first day of his new trial was held at the Lafayette County Courthouse after the Mississippi Court of Appeals decided to change the venue. The court said Davis was getting too much publicity in DeSoto County, where he originally was charged and stood trial.

Prosecutors accuse Davis of illegally buying a city-owned vehicle and embezzling money. In opening statements, the District Attorney addressed the jury about Davis' alleged illegal gas purchases. The prosecution said Davis used the city pumps to fill up with gas for no charge, but then submitted vouchers to be repaid.

"The city was providing him with free gas by him going to the pump for his personal vehicle and then he was submitting reimbursement vouchers every single month to be reimbursed for gas that he never paid for," DA John Champion said.

Witnesses took the stand one by one and addressed questions about the city's leased SUV.

Defense attorney Steve Farese used those testimonies to argue the vehicle Davis purchased was used for business purposes only and that Davis was able to purchase that vehicle fairly when the city's lease ended because it was an open end lease.

"What the state is presenting to you is that Greg Davis had this master plan apparently when the vehicle was leased some years before," Farese said.

Farese said the SUV in question was used by the Utility Department for only the specified amount of time of the lease.

"Everybody knew the vehicle was going to be turned in because the Board of Aldermen did not want any part of that vehicle," Farese said.

Defense testimony is set to begin Tuesday morning.

CLICK HERE to see a timeline of Davis' questionable spending.

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