State Auditor Arrests and Issues Demand Against Former Youth
ChalleNGe Academy Employee

Special Agents from the State Auditor’s Office served Jerry Howard with a formal demand in the amount of $157,385.40, and was served with a 4 count Forrest County Grand Jury capias indictment for embezzlement. Howard, 51, is the former Cafeteria Manager at the Youth ChalleNGe Academy at Camp Shelby. The Youth ChalleNGe Academy is part of the National Guard Youth Guard Program and serves at-risk male and female youth ages 16-18.

“The Youth ChalleNGe Program at Camp Shelby has a long history of being an excellent program that positively impacts young people,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “This was an unfortunate situation where one individual didn’t share in the beliefs and values of the organization of which he was a part of, and used the trust of that program to personally benefit.”

On May 24, 2014, following a search of Howard’s restaurant, Jerry’s Seasoned Food, and his personal residence, Howard was arrested by agents from the State Auditor’s Office and charged with grand larceny. During the search, agents found and seized large quantities of food at each location that was purchased by the National Guard.

District Attorney Patricia Burchell stated, “While I am ethically prohibited from commenting on the specifics of this case or our prosecution of the case, I want to take this opportunity to commend the agents of the State Auditor’s Office for their excellent investigation.”

Pickering said his agents determined that large quantities of invoiced food never appeared on cafeteria menus. While the number of academy participants remained virtually the same, end of the year totals for food purchases increased from $216,000 in 2008 to $306,000 in 2014.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering Press Release