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Chancery clerk issued demand for funds he didn't steal

A chancery clerk is on the hook for hundreds of thousands dollars of missing funds, though he didn’t steal the money or profit from it.

Itawamba County Chancery Clerk Jim Witt has been served with a demand in the amount of $503,246.43 from the Office of State Auditor.

From August 2007 through December 2012, the Itawamba County Chancery Clerk’s office failed to settle funds collected for the redemption of delinquent taxes in a timely manner as required by law.

“Mississippi law specifically says that the redemption of land sold for taxes shall be made through the Chancery Clerk’s Office,” Auditor Stacey Pickering said. “While Mr. Witt did not steal this money or personally benefit from it, he is responsible for this loss of money as the Chancery Clerk of Itawamba County.”

Due to the failure of the chancery clerk to pay the sums when required, there are instances whereby amounts that were settled were in excess of amounts collected. This, in part, caused the Itawamba County land redemption account to have a shortage.

In addition, there are numerous instances whereby some payees have yet to receive the money due them. This $454,137.78 includes payments to Itawamba County, the Chancery Clerk’s Office and purchasers at the various land sales, which take place after taxes have not been paid.

Witt has served as chancery clerk since January 1992.

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