More than $14,000 has been recovered in an embezzlement case involving a former Jones County employee, state Auditor Shad White announced, along with a warning to others who may be stealing from county coffers.
“We will continue to ensure that taxpayer resources are only used for the benefit of the taxpayer,” White, a Sandersvillle native, said of the case that happened in his home county.
Roland Graham, 61, pleaded guilty in Jones County Circuit Court to embezzlement and conspiracy charges this week and co-conspirator Larry Barnes, 58, of Purvis pleaded guilty to the same charges in January. Both cases were prosecuted by the Jones County District Attorney’s office in Judge Dal Williamson’s courtroom.
White also commended the investigator and prosecutors “who worked this case diligently.” Special Agent Layne Bounds of Laurel helped investigate the case and Assistant District Attorney Katie Sumrall served as prosecutor.
Graham is a former Jones County road foreman who was arrested in July 2020 after investigators determined he used Jones County equipment and personnel to perform demolition work at a North 5th Avenue residence for Barnes, a private contractor. Graham also directed disposal fees from the demolition work be billed to Jones County.
Graham was ordered to serve 30 months in the full-time custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He was sentenced as a habitual offender because of previous felony convictions, so he is supposed to serve his time day for day, with no chance for early release. He was also ordered to pay full restitution, a $3,000 fine, and all court costs.
The auditor’s office has already recovered $14,139.90 in the case, and the money has been returned to the appropriate deserving entities, White said.
Suspected fraud can be reported to the auditor’s office online at any time by clicking the red button at www.osa.ms.gov or via telephone during normal business hours at 1-(800)-321-1275.
White was appointed the 42nd State Auditor of Mississippi in July 2018 and then won election to the office after establishing a tough, no-nonsense reputation. During his time in office, White’s team has stopped the largest public fraud in state history, made the largest civil recovery after an auditor’s investigation in the history of the office and concluded cases that, collectively, led to hundreds of years of prison sentences for fraudsters.
He holds a certificate in forensic accounting, is a Certified Fraud Examiner, and serves in the military as an officer in the Mississippi National Guard assigned to the 186th Air Wing in Meridian. White graduated from Northeast Jones and went on to earn degrees from Ole Miss, the University of Oxford in England, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and Harvard Law School. He, his wife Rina, and their daughters live in Rankin County.