New Public Corruption Law Is Working

November 19, 2013

JACKSON- During the 2013 legislative session, Senate Bill 2625 was passed prohibiting an individual who has been convicted or pled guilty to stealing public funds in the state of Mississippi from working for the state or any county, municipality or other political subdivision again.

As part of my Office’s legislative agenda last year, we worked with Senator Will Longwitz and Representative Dennis DeBar to draft this important legislation. I thank the legislators who supported SB2625 and helped navigate it into becoming law.

On July 1 the new law went into effect and in the short time since we have already seen the bill’s impact:

  • Former Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Harvey Franklin was sentenced last week for accepting bribes from a school contractor. He was sentenced to more than six years in prison and was also ordered to pay back restitution totaling more than $1.2 million. In exchange for contracts with the school system, numerous creditors were paid on Franklin’s behalf, which included paying off Franklin’s automobile loan, remodeling and improvements for his home, paying off his personal credit card, and paying for the college tuition of Franklin’s children. (Full story here)
  • In Union County, former Coroner Mark Golding pled guilty to two counts of fraud by a public official. As Coroner, Golding submitted false claims totaling more than $275,000 for deaths he did not investigate. He will serve a total of four years in the custody of the Department of Corrections and pay back nearly $400,000 for the principal amount, interest, and investigative costs. (Full story here)
  • David Kweller, a former employee with the Mississippi Department of Health, pled guilty to embezzling over $23,000 over a two year period from the agency. He will pay back more than $40,000 for the amount embezzled, which includes accrued interest and investigative costs.  (Full story here)

This Act of the Mississippi Legislature further enables us to protect the taxpayers from those who would pilfer public treasuries by not allowing Franklin, Golding, Kweller, and those like them to work for any state or local government entity in Mississippi again.

I look forward to continue working with Governor Phil Bryant, along with Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, Speaker Philip Gunn and the members of their respective chambers in the upcoming 2014 Session as we collectively strive to serve the public interest in a manner worthy of their trust.

Stacey Pickering
State Auditor