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State files civil suit in timber theft case

PEARL RIVER COUNTY — The State of Mississippi has filed a civil lawsuit against timber theft suspect, Harold Edwin Simmons of Saucier, seeking $246,747 in alleged missing timber funds.

“This is money which should have gone to the Pearl River County and Poplarville school districts for the education of our children, and we want it back,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “Mr. Simmons faces not only criminal charges in this case, but now our civil case seeks damages for the amount we believe he pocketed while harvesting timber on our 16th Section lands.”

“I am glad to work with the Secretary of State to recover money owed to our school children,” said Attorney General Jim Hood.

In addition to the $246,747, the State of Mississippi is also seeking damages for costs, expenses and attorney’s fees as well as punitive damages.

In April 2010, Simmons was arrested on three counts of timber theft. The State of Mississippi believes Simmons took more timber than reported to local school officials, and pocketed the excess cash.

“Stealing from our schoolchildren will not be tolerated. If you steal timber on 16th Section land, we will be watching,” said Hosemann.

In June 2010, Simmons was indicted on three counts of timber theft. If convicted of the criminal charges, he faces up to 15 years in the State Penitentiary and $15,000 in fines and possible restitution.

The civil lawsuit was filed by the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the Secretary of State’s Office as supervisory trustee of 16th Section lands, the Poplarville School District and Pearl River County School District.

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