COAHOMA COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - State Auditor Shad White announced on Monday that Special Agents from the Auditor’s office have made arrests in two separate cases after a grand jury indicted Gwendolyn Jefferson, Stacie Neal and Kappi Allen. The total amount of demands issued among the three is over $1.1 million.
“I’m thankful for District Attorney Mitchell’s willingness to handle these cases. This kind of public corruption has to stop in Coahoma County, and we will work together with the DA to bring these three to justice,” said Auditor White.
In September 2018, agents delivered the largest demand for suspected embezzlement in five years—$981,600.64—to former Coahoma Community College employees Gwendolyn Jefferson and Stacie Neal. Both women have been arrested after being indicted for embezzlement and conspiracy. Neal was also indicted for making false representations used to defraud a government entity.
Jefferson and Neal are accused of making personal purchases worth more than $750,000 using credit cards and checks belonging to Coahoma Community College from January 2013 to September 2017. They allegedly purchased gift cards, shoes, watches, a chandelier and many other consumables with public funds. The scheme was discovered by a college official when Jefferson and Neal forgot to conceal a purchase record.
“The case involving the two former employees of Coahoma Community College is alarming not only because of the size of the embezzlement, which was massive, but also because of the victims. Taxpayers, students, and an entire community lost the benefit of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said White.
In addition to facing criminal charges, both women will remain personally liable for the full amount of the demand.
If convicted, Jefferson faces up to 25 years in prison and $25,000 in fines, and Neal could face up to 30 years in prison and $35,000 in fines.
Kappi Allen is accused of embezzling over $90,000 while she was Executive Director of the Coahoma Tourism Commission. From October 2014 to January 2018, Allen allegedly used a public procurement card to pay for a vision appointment and glasses and buy merchandise from retailers like Target, Steinmart, Trunk Club and Disney World. Investigators identified over $36,000 in personal purchases allegedly made by Allen.
Allen is also accused of issuing unapproved payroll checks to herself. Because accounting duties for the Coahoma Tourism Commission were not properly separated, Allen maintained complete authority over expenditures at the commission while she was executive director. Investigators identified unapproved checks worth nearly $57,000 allegedly made payable to Allen.
“Use of public money on personal purchases like this shows there are still people who fail to grasp that there are victims when you steal public money,” said White. “These are not victimless crimes, and we work in the Auditor’s office every day with that in mind.”
Upon arrest, a demand letter worth $142,524.35 was delivered to Allen. All accrued interest and investigative costs are included in the total demand amount.
If convicted, Allen faces up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
Neither Jefferson, Neal nor Allen’s employment was covered by a surety bond, which is similar to insurance designed to protect the taxpayers in instances like this. In addition to facing criminal charges, they all will remain personally liable for the full amount of the demand.