Jackson County

Moss Point mayor confirms fraud investigation of two departments

The state Auditor’s Office is investigating potential fraud involving money from Moss Point’s Utilities Department and Police Department.

Mayor Billy Broomfield confirmed the investigations after a the Sun Herald filed a public-records request.

In the Utilities Department, the finance director discovered “some discrepancies in the accounting” and told District Attorney Tony Lawrence, who reported the information to the state Auditor’s Office.

A second investigation began after Interim Police Chief Brandon Ashley checked the Moss Point Police Benefit Account and discovered problems with spending. The Police Benefit Account was set up for police-sponsored events such as the annual National Night Out Against Crime.

Two city employees, the release said, had access to the account, although the employees were not named. A statement from Broomfield said the two were no longer employed by the city.

“It became apparent that the fund was being used for items unrelated to police-sponsored events,” Broomfield said in a statement. “As such, the city contacted the criminal investigator with the Mississippi State Auditor’s office.”

City officials are not targets of the investigation, which comes at a turbulent time for the city.

In September, former Moss Point Police Chief Art McClung resigned after the Sun Herald’s report on his July 29 traffic stop in Pascagoula, where he was clocked at 109 mph and after admitting drinking “at least three vodkas.”

The city suspended McClung at an Aug. 30 special emergency meeting. They later voted to fire McClung, but gave him the option to resign. He resigned.

Police had clocked McClung going 54 mph over the speed limit and said he was passing people “on the right” side of the road.

The Sun Herald independently learned of that incident and filed the public-records request to obtain the Pascagoula police audio and video recordings, radio traffic and other information.

That report included video from two Pascagoula patrol cars involved in the stop. Pascagoula police gave McClung a ride home.

Statement from Moss Point Mayor Billy Broomfield

It is with much regret that I inform the public that the City has recently discovered incidents of potential fraud and misappropriation of funds in the Moss Point Utilities Department and the Moss Point Police Department. Just recently, the Finance Director discovered some discrepancies in the accounting for the utility department. Once found, the City immediately contacted the District Attorney, Tony Lawrence, who then contacted the State Auditor’s office. At this time, the matter has been turned over to the criminal investigation division with the Mississippi State Auditor’s office. The City is fully complying with the investigation. There have been no findings issued to date.

During the change in leadership, the interim Chief, Brandon Ashley, requested bank statements related to a fund set up independently by the Moss Point Police Department for use in Police related events such as “Night Out Against Crime” and other police functions. This police fund only had two signatories on the account, which did not include the Mayor, City Clerk, or any of the Board of Aldermen members. Once the City received the bank statements, it became apparent that the fund was being used for items unrelated to police sponsored events. As such, the City contacted the criminal investigator with the Mississippi State Auditor’s office. The City is fully complying with the investigation. There have been no findings issued to date. The employees listed as signatories on the account are no longer employed by the City of Moss Point.

I would like the Citizens of Moss Point to know that this Administration will take all steps possible to ensure that these individuals are prosecuted.

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