JACKSON, Miss. – Today Special Agents from the Office of State Auditor Shad White arrested current Humphreys County Chancery Clerk Lawrence Browder after he was indicted for submitting false documents by a grand jury assembled by District Attorney for the 21st District Akillie Malone-Oliver. Browder was issued a demand letter for $279,764.16 at the time of his arrest. Interest and investigative expenses are included in the demand amount.
Browder is accused of fraudulently obtaining money from the county by forcing his staff to create false court records from January 2016 to January 2017. Chancery clerks collect fees for filing certain court proceedings, and Browder allegedly pocketed money after reporting his office filed cases that did not exist. Using this scheme, Browder allegedly obtained $31,350 from falsified Humphreys County youth court and lunacy case proceedings.
In addition to fraud charges, Browder was issued a civil demand to repay more than $200,000 in compensation illegally given to him. The salary of a chancery clerk in Mississippi is partially composed of fees charged for services provided by each office, but no chancery clerk can be compensated more than $90,000 in fees in any one year. Browder exceeded the maximum allowable salary by $205,724.14. By law, the excess fees should have been returned to Humphreys County each year.
Browder has served as chancery clerk since 1996. In this position, he is covered by a $100,000 surety bond. This bond will help improve the chance for taxpayers to recover the money that has been stolen and misspent.
State Auditor Shad White said, “It’s disheartening to see such a long-serving elected official taking advantage of the taxpayers and the voters who elected him. There is zero tolerance for those who knowingly steal taxpayers’ money as Mr. Browder did in this case. My office will continue to uphold the law in these circumstances, with no exceptions.”
If convicted, Browder faces up to five years in prison, $10,000 in fines, and removal from office. All persons arrested by the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The case will be prosecuted by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.