State Auditor Stacey Pickering Announces Two Arrests for Embezzlement Using Credit Cards in Yazoo County

(Jackson, Miss.) Karen Smith and Carolyn L. Coates, former employees of public entities in Yazoo County, have been arrested following a grand jury indictment for embezzlement of $500 or more. Karen Smith, 39, served as the executive director of the Yazoo County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau from November 1998 – July 2007. After the State Auditor’s investigation, evidence showed Smith had embezzled $47,802.40 from the Yazoo County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau by making personal purchases on an agency credit card. Coates, 55, was the former administrative manager of the Yazoo County Chamber of Commerce from August 2001 – February 2008, and she was indicted in November by the grand jury on the charge of embezzlement. The State Auditor’s investigation shows Coates charged $25,970.98 in personal purchases on the Chamber’s credit card.

“The State continues to see an increase in the cases of embezzlement involving government-owned credit cards,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “These two individuals used agency credit cards for nearly $75,000 of unauthorized purchases, and they are obligated to return those funds to the taxpayers in Yazoo County in addition to any criminal charges that may be pursued.”

The investigation by the State Auditor’s Office concluded that Karen Smith embezzled $47,802.40 from the Yazoo County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and Carolyn Coates embezzled $25,970.98 from the Yazoo County Chamber of Commerce. Both individuals are also responsible for interest on the funds embezzled and the investigative costs incurred by the State Auditor’s Office. Both turned themselves in to the Yazoo County Sheriff’s office earlier today and were released on bond.

Since taking office January 10, State Auditor Stacey Pickering has recovered $1,782,248.72 in misappropriated, misused or embezzled taxpayer funds.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering Press Release