Mississippi Auditor Stacey Pickering says the state recovered more than $1.5 dollars in misspent public funds during fiscal year 2014. Most of that money comes from prosecuting those individuals who committed embezzlement.
The office of state auditor Stacey Pickering has released a legally mandated, annual report that highlights all accounts of misspent or misappropriated tax dollars during the last fiscal year. According to the report, more than $3 million of the state's public money was misused in 2014. Pickering says most of that misuse came from embezzlement.
Misappropriation or misspending of taxpayer dollars no matter how small or how large is the same, it belongs to the taxpayers of the state of Mississippi, and they have to be made whole." says Pickering. "Sometimes it's simply and accounting error, but most accounts turn out to be intentional, volitional acts of embezzlement and stealing and misuse of taxpayer resources."
Last year was no exception. The law enforcement division of the state auditor's office issued 29 demands for nearly $2.9 million in fraudulent spending. Pickering says no taxpayer money is used to reclaim those funds.
"If it's a criminal account we are allowed to charge our investigative costs; so that when the individuals pleads guilty or is found guilty [they] actually have to pay for their own investigation." Pickering says. "Taxpayers should not carry the burden of that."
Forrest Thigpen is the President of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, a watchdog group that oversees governmental spending. He says report's like this help create transparency within the state's various governmental bodies.
"This is only after audits have been performed, and so what's important is that people on the local level who know who the people are involved in local government to keep an eye on how their local government spend money.
Since 2008, the state has recovered more than $20 million in misappropriated or embezzled funds.