Mayor Dupree Ignored Gas Theft Controls and Internal Auditor Recommendations Found in a 2012 Investigation Summary of Public Works Department

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If one wants to allow, or facilitate theft and fraud within an organization, a lack of proper accounting controls and no internal audits would be textbook ways to carry out that goal. By not having proper accounting controls and reporting, theft and fraud could go unnoticed  with near impunity. Evidence of theft becomes essentially non-existent or too costly and time-consuming to investigate and uncover.

Back in 2013 this blog exposed alleged schemes to defraud taxpayers of thousands of dollars within the City of Hattiesburg's Public Works Department. In the course of investigating, the Hattiesburg Patriot submitted two record requests.  One request was for the investigative summary conducted by the city's accounting agency Nicholson and Company, PLLC,  and another request was for HPD's closed investigation summary of the department. Mayor Dupree and City Attorney Charles Lawrence refused all requests for these records. The reason for the denial of the records requests was "personnel matters." Taxpayers funded both investigations.

Records exempt from public access as listed under statute § 25-61-11. Exempted or privileged records.  The statute pertaining to disclosure of personnel information is code section  25-1-100  The Hattiesburg Patriot being denied the investigative summary into departmental theft and alleged criminal activity, as well as a closed police investigation summary, are not protected under Mississippi Code.  However, this blog lacked the financial resources to file suit in Circuit Court to get a court order for these documents.  This scheme was only exposed when restitution was paid back to the city by the Head of Public Works, Russell Davis and Department Manager, Tim Pittman. Receipts paid to the city are not protected by any privacy laws. So, City Attorney Charles Lawrence couldn't devise a reason to deny a request for city receipts.

A portion of Nicholson and Associates Investigative Summary into the Public Works Department.

Click to enlarge. A portion of Nicholson and Associates Investigative Summary into the Public Works Department outlines recommendations to prevent gas theft in the future. Mayor Dupree never implemented the control procedures, which led to over $20,000 in gas theft in the water department.

The alleged fraud involved overtime and payroll schemes, maintenance of private vehicles with city paid workers and facilities, as well as the maintenance of a private vegetable garden with city worker labor.  The article documenting the alleged fraud is titled Mayor Johnny Dupree Cited “personnel matters” in Scheme: Russell Davis & Tim Pittmon Repaid Over $28,000. Davis and Pittman no longer work with the city.

The Hattiesburg Patriot has finally obtained a copy of the report, which outlines Nicholson and Company's findings and recommendations.  This report has never been made available to the public before.  The investigation was ordered by the city council.  It is clear in this report's finding that possible gasoline abuse was at play in Public Works back in early 2012, and recommendations were made to prevent this abuse from re-occurring. Additionally the report recommends that an internal auditor be hired and that they report to the City Clerk.  Both of these recommendations were ignored by Mayor Dupree, and they were never put on the agenda to remedy the obvious holes in financial security of taxpayer resources. Had these controls been in place, the gas theft in the water department (around election time) would not have happened. Explanations one could conclude as to why Dupree did not implement these findings would either be: (1) incompetence (2) apathy (3) a role in a possible cover-up (4) involvement in a conspiracy. The Hattiesburg Patriot further alleges that City Attorney Charles Lawrence's denial was not only unlawful, but possibly a conspiracy to cover-up alleged crimes from public scrutiny.

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The full Nicholson and Associates investigation summary is below.

 

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34 thoughts on “Mayor Dupree Ignored Gas Theft Controls and Internal Auditor Recommendations Found in a 2012 Investigation Summary of Public Works Department

  1. Melanie Johnson Barnett

    Being right with God is wonderful. Being right with fellow man has also gotta be right or suffer the consequences with jail or other means of punishment!! What Dupree does today does have an affect on us today tomorrow and years down the road!! He needs to be put out of office ASAP

  2. Sam Lilbit Bradley

    I’m not saying he isn’t wrong but everything happens for a reason ,the difference between me and other people is I don’t dwell on what other people do wrong, I worry about my self,to have hate in your heart on earthly things is the wrong way to act .I’m only worrying about having my soul right when I have to stand in front of our maker!

  3. Carlton Welborn

    As usual, we have to hear from supporters of our corrupt Mayor and corrupt Officials …. “nothing to see here, move along”. Makes me sick. The continued support and willingness of these supporters to ignore undisputed facts of wrong doing is chilling to say the least. At what point, what event, has to happen to cause the supporters of a chronically corrupt group of officials to see the injustice? Clearly taking money directly from their own pocket isn’t enough. Wake Up!

  4. Tim Adams

    You’re missing the point…these so called Bible Belt people dont care about criminality. Thats how he was put in office! Everyone should be ringing the phones off the hook at the MS State Auditor’s Office complaining. Yes, judgement will indeed come on those voters as well.

  5. Dallas Tucker

    And just why in the hell is dumbpree still in office ?? He should and needs to be IMPEACHED as of yesterday!! When are you people who voted to put this corrupt man in the mayors seat going to realize that he NOR anybody else is ABOVE any law(s) that are in place for all of us to follow and abide to. I just hope and pray that in the days to come , someone ( DA’s office ) will do the right thing and throw his ass out in the street where he belongs, him and all his crooked ass cronies/buddies / his own personal “spiritual adviser”/fraud committing thugs that have torn this city apart . One can only think and wonder how great things would be today had Dave Ware been declared the winner of the first election like he should have been given there was a 9-3 verdict by the jury. Hope all you who voted for dumbpree are satisfied now that you have been given proof once again that he has been running a corrupt administration, “Where’s the Mayor ” ??? What answers does he have now about all this news that has been exposed on him with the gas card fraud that he knew about since 2012 ?? And he kept his mouth shut about it ?? BULLSHIT !

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