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Three indicted, alleged to have embezzled from agency

gavel judge moneyJACKSON — The ex-director of an agency that receives federal money annually and two contractors have been indicted for conspiring to embezzle money from the agency, authorities said yesterday.

A federal grand jury indicted Linda Harvey-Irvin, 62, of Jackson; Donald Walton, 51, of Vicksburg; and Markuntala Croom, 45, of Columbia, for conspiring to embezzle money from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Action Agency, U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis said in a news release.

Harvey-Irvin, the former director of the GCCAA and director of the associated Head Start Program, allegedly accepted bribes from Walton, owner and operator of Walton Construction, in exchange for awarding construction contracts. According to the indictment, GCCAA paid Walton more than $365,200 during the course of the alleged conspiracy and Walton, in turn, paid Harvey-Irvin $31,000 in kickbacks for the awarding of those contracts.

She’s accused in a second indictment of conspiracy to commit federal program fraud by accepting and paying bribes and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to the indictment, Harvey-Irvin accepted money from Croom, owner and operator of Croom Management Services, in exchange for awarding consulting work.

It is alleged that GCCAA paid Croom about $650,000 during the course of the conspiracy and Croom, in turn, paid Harvey-Irvin nearly $92,000 in kickbacks for the awarding of those contracts.

The indictment alleges that Croom and Harvey-Irvin conspired to launder the kickbacks, with Croom making cash deposits into a bank account owned by Harvey-Irvin.

The offenses carry up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for conspiracy; 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for accepting and paying bribes; and 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine per count for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

 

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