The Clarion-Ledger, 12/17/8

A former Jones County deputy court clerk could face up to 30 years in prison for embezzling more than $200,000 and altering public records to hide the crime, state officials said Tuesday.

Natalie Brooke Ward, 30, surrendered to Jones County deputies Tuesday after she was indicted by a grand jury on two felony charges.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering said investigators determined Ward had stolen $218,024.59 in public funds during a three-year period.

Pickering said an investigation started in January after county officials noticed funds missing from the Jones County land redemption account.

“There were some files that were missing. Some numbers weren’t adding up, especially in the land redemption accounts. And that’s when we came in and started looking,” Pickering said during a news conference Tuesday at the Jones County Courthouse.