As I complete my fourth year as your State Auditor, I’d like to update you on some of the cases my investigators have been working on to help protect your money.
In November 2021, Special Agents from my office made two arrests in Hinds County. Former Hinds County employee Marketa Graham was arrested after being indicted for fraud, and Chris Smith, former Mississippi Board of Animal Health Director of Accounting and Finance, was arrested after he was indicted for embezzlement.
Graham is accused of submitting fraudulent invoices for cleaning services to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors from her own company. Despite the invoices being submitted and paid, no work was actually performed. Mississippi law would have prevented Graham or her company from being paid for these services even if they had been performed, so she allegedly manipulated the billing process to submit these invoices.
Graham was paid approximately $4,700 before Hinds County officials reported her alleged scheme to the Auditor’s office. Upon her arrest in November, Graham was issued a $9,661.44 demand letter.
Chris Smith was arrested after previously being served a demand letter. He is accused of embezzling from the Mississippi Board of Animal Health. The State Auditor’s office has already recovered $25,000 from Smith’s surety bond. Smith’s trial date is set for August 23, 2022.
My office also recently made two arrests in separate Rankin County cases. Former Mississippi State Hospital police officer Roberto Williams was arrested for fraud in February and former deputy tax collector Tiffany Loftin was arrested last November for embezzlement.
In a multi-jurisdictional case, Roberto Williams was actually arrested by authorities in Corsicana, Texas, and extradited back to Mississippi after he was indicted. Special Agents from my office presented a $3,135.62 demand letter to Williams when he arrived in Mississippi.
Williams is accused of submitting fraudulent timesheets to receive payment for the time he was not actually working. He allegedly left work for extended periods of time while he was “clocked in” and being paid by the police department. Williams’s purported scheme took place from April to June, 2020, soon after he was hired.
Tiffany Loftin was arrested by Special Agents from the State Auditor’s office in November of last year after video cameras in the Rankin County Tax Collector’s office showed her stuffing recently-collected cash into her pants. She pleaded guilty to embezzlement in March. She embezzled nearly $6,000 from Rankin County residents as they paid cash for county trash collection fees.
Tiffany Loftin is now convicted of a felony offense and will not be able to handle public money again.
As it is with so many of our cases, most were reported to my office by someone who was paying attention and realized something wasn’t right. I am thankful these individuals alerted my team of investigators. I am also thankful for the work the investigators do to help safeguard public funds, ensuring that those who choose to break the law are held accountable.
As State Auditor, protecting your tax dollars is my highest priority. You deserve a team that works just as hard to protect your money as you worked to earn it in the first place. And that is my continued commitment to you.
Shad White is the 42nd State Auditor of Mississippi
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