Former Neshoba County Administrator Benjie Coats is the latest fired Neshoba official the Mississippi’s State Auditor’s Office has ordered to repay money relating to hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out in an alleged overtime pay scheme.
Coats and three other former county officials have been indicted in what prosecutors say was a scheme to bill the county for more than 30,000 hours of overtime never worked.
State Auditor Stacy Pickering has demanded Coats repay $39,341 it says he gained through the overtime fraud. A grand jury indicted Coats on one count of fraud in September.
In total, the Auditor’s Office has demanded repayment of more than $1 million relating to the alleged scheme.
Pickering says Coats was at the center of an investigation by his office into an apparent overtime pay scheme. The individuals submitted more than 30,000 hours of overtime pay for which they did not work, the Auditor’s Office claims.
Indicted on seven counts of fraud each earlier this year were Tommy Gomillion, former Neshoba County payroll clerk; Julie Faye Russell, former Neshoba purchasing clerk; and Jill Watkins, former Neshoba comptroller. Pickering has ordered repaying of more than $1.3 million from the former officials.
“These individuals took advantage of the taxpayers of Neshoba County and created a scheme to defraud the local taxpayers of over $1 million,” Pickering said. “Their employment has already been terminated by the county, and our office will continue to work diligently to recover these funds through restitution and their bond.”
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