DATE: November 17, 2010

State Auditor Presents $25,000.00 to Covington County Sheriff’s Department

(Jackson, Miss.) – Winnie Hathorne, a former bookkeeper for the Covington County Sheriff’s Department, embezzled over $77,000.00 from the Sheriff’s Office from January 2008 through April 2009. Auditors from the State Auditor’s Office discovered that Hathorne was embezzling money from the Sheriff’s Office by taking cash receipts.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering presented a check for $25,000.00 to Sheriff Ben Ford on Wednesday, November 17, at the Covington County Sheriff’s Office. This money was recovered from the bond of Winnie Hathorne. Hathorne pled guilty to embezzlement and was sentenced to ten years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with three of the ten years to be served on house arrest. She was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $77,847.00.

“Sheriff Ford and deputies with the Covington County Sheriff’s Department were very helpful in this case and assisted the State Auditor’s Office with the arrest,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “By working together, we have been able to protect the reputation and interest of the Covington County taxpayers.”

“I accept the check on behalf of Covington County, and I am grateful to State Auditor Stacey Pickering and his staff for recovering our loss,” said Sheriff Ford.

Elected as Mississippi’s State Auditor in 2007, Stacey Pickering has recovered more than $3.9 million in embezzled, misspent or misappropriated funds. He is a seventh generation Mississippian from Jones County. Auditor Pickering currently serves on the Domestic Working Group for the Office of the Comptroller General of the United States. He also serves on the Financial Management and Intergovernmental Affairs and Performance Audit Committees for the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers and is a member of the National State Auditors Association. Prior to serving as State Auditor, Pickering served as a State Senator from 2004-2007 representing Jones County and is credited for co-authorizing legislation allowing Mississippi to end lawsuit abuse. Throughout his political career, Pickering has made tremendous strides in creating more accountability and transparency in government and continues to promote fiscal responsibility and the need for more efficiency and productivity in government. For more information on Stacey Pickering, visit www.osa.state.ms.us/auditors-bio.htm.

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Laney Grantham
Press Secretary
Office of State Auditor Stacey Pickering