Seventh Individual Pleads Guilty in MDOT Corruption Ring

(Jackson, Miss.) James Kevin Ellis, seventh former employee of MDOT, pled guilty Monday to embezzlement in Circuit Court of Yazoo County. Last week, six former employees of MDOT pled guilty following indictments in 2009 for involvement in a well-development corruption ring. Joseph C. Gallagher, Gene Edward Taylor, Clarence Shelton, James D. Malone, Ivory Luckett and Dennis Keith Pierce all plead guilty last week on charges they were involved with a scheme to defraud the taxpayers of Mississippi through several acts handled through the vehicle mechanic shop at the MDOT facility in Yazoo City.

“This final plea marks the end of a case that began in 2007,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “The seventh guilty plea marks 53 individuals that have pled guilty since I took office in January 2008, and we continue to see that number rise. Our law enforcement agents take their job very seriously and, since January 2008, have not lost a case. We currently have 58 individuals that have been indicted and are awaiting trial.”

Kevin Ellis took and sold equipment owned by MDOT and negotiated and approving illegitimate invoices being billed and paid by MDOT for personal purchases. Ellis was sentenced to five (5) years of supervised probation; a $3,000 fine to Yazoo County; and $4500 in restitution to MDOT and the State Auditor’s Office.

Dennis Keith Pierce embezzled funds from the Mississippi Department of Transportation by receiving payments for false invoices submitted to MDOT. Pierce pled guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to five (5) years of supervised probation; a $20,000 fine to Yazoo County; $273.50 in court costs; $244 to MDOT; $200 to the State Auditor’s Office for investigative costs; all to be paid within 30 days of March 18, 2010.

Joseph C. Gallagher embezzled funds from the MDOT by knowingly ordering parts for a private party and having the parts billed and paid for by MDOT. Gallagher pled guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to five (5) years of supervised probation; $10,000 fine to Yazoo County; $257.10 in court costs; $500 in attorney fees; $257.10 to MDOT; and $214.25 to the State Auditor’s Office for investigative costs; all to be paid within 90 days of March 19, 2010.

Gene Edward Taylor benefited from MDOT’s payment for a part to be used on his personal vehicle Taylor pled guilty to making false entries in public records and was sentenced to five (5) years of supervised probation; $10,000 fine to Yazoo County; $273.50 in court costs; $500 in attorney fees; $583.20 to MDOT; and $486 to the State Auditor’s Office for investigative costs; all to be paid within 90 days of March 19, 2010.

Clarence Shelton embezzled funds from MDOT by approving subordinate employees to work on personal projects while on duty and by acquiring parts for personal vehicles, knowingly having them billed to MDOT and approving payment for the invoices. Shelton pled guilty to embezzlement and conspiracy and was sentenced to two (2) years of Intensive Supervision/House Arrest Program; eight (8) years of supervised probation; $273.50 in court costs; a $7500 fine to Yazoo County; $2303.81 to MDOT; $1913.70 to the State Auditor’s Office for investigative costs; all at a rate of $125 a month beginning May 1, 2010.

James D. Malone was investigated, and it was determined that Malone also benefited from a part that was ordered for his personal vehicle and installed by an MDOT employee while working on duty at the agency. Malone pled guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to five (5) years of supervised probation; $1000 fine to Yazoo County; $273.50 in court costs; $500 in attorney fees; $87.92 to MDOT; $73.27 to the State Auditor’s Office for investigative costs; all to be paid within the first year of his probation.

Ivory Luckett worked on personal property while on duty as an employee of MDOT to perform maintenance on a truck owned by an individual and MDOT’s payment of a part placed on the personal vehicle. Luckett pled guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to one (1) year of supervised probation; $273.50 in court costs; $500 in attorney fees; $136.16 to MDOT; and $108.06 to the State Auditor’s Office for investigative costs; all to be paid within the one year of supervised probation.

To access photos and b-roll footage from the arrests in August 2009, visit http://www2.osa.ms.gov/forum/showthread.php?t=169; http://www2.osa.ms.gov/forum/showthread.php?t=170.

Pickering Press
3/23/10