Crime

Former Biloxi schools police chief indicted in embezzlement

Joseph Davis Jr., is escorted from the Biloxi School Board meeting by Paul Cannette of the Biloxi Schools Campus Police on Tuesday night, Feb. 18, 2009. Cannette has been indicted by the state Auditor’s Office on charges of embezzlement.
Joseph Davis Jr., is escorted from the Biloxi School Board meeting by Paul Cannette of the Biloxi Schools Campus Police on Tuesday night, Feb. 18, 2009. Cannette has been indicted by the state Auditor’s Office on charges of embezzlement. Sun Herald File

The police chief of the Biloxi School District has been indicted on an embezzlement charge alleging he took more than $150,000 from the Mississippi Association of School Resource Officers.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering announced the arrest of Paul Cannette of Ocean Springs on Wednesday.

State agents arrested Cannette, 48, on Tuesday after a Harrison County grand jury indicted him on one count of embezzlement.

Cannette, a former Biloxi patrol officer and criminal investigator, has since resigned from the campus police job and from his office with the state organization, Pickering said in a news release.

Pickering’s office issued a demand that Cannette pay $244,819.78, which he said includes the amount of missing money plus interest and costs of the investigation.

Cannette had led the Biloxi School District’s school resource office for more than a decade. The school district has a certified campus police force that operates independently of the city’s police department.

Cannette was the sole officer of the MASRO, Pickering said. The organization receives public money from the Mississippi Department of Education through a Mississippi Community Oriented Policing in Schools grant.

“This is another instance of an individual violating the trust of a community by embezzlement,” Pickering said in his news release.

“This offense is a particularly egregious because the stolen funds should have gone toward providing safety to our schoolchildren. My office will continue the fight to recover misspent and, in this case, stolen money on behalf of Mississippi taxpayers.”

Pickering said Cannette was jailed under a $50,000 bond. Cannette’s booking mug did not appear on the county jail docket on Wednesday.

School resource officers are certified law enforcement officers who function as a teacher, informal counselor and law enforcement officer, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers website.

“By training law enforcement to educate, counsel and protect school communities, the men and women of NASRO continuously lead by example and promote a positive image of law enforcement to school children and school communities,” the website says.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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