Five employees of the Mississippi Department of Transportation were arrested Tuesday morning following an investigation by the State Auditor’s Office that began in 2007. All employees worked in the MDOT office located in Yazoo City and were indicted by the grand jury in August on charges of embezzlement, fraudulently obtaining public funds, making false entries in public records and conspiracy.
“The arrest of these five individuals this morning marks a bust in a well-organized corruption ring in Mississippi,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “These individuals had developed a system and were all benefiting at the taxpayers’ expense. I do expect more arrests to follow in this case and appreciate the cooperation of management at MDOT as we worked this case and ended this illegal activity.”
“We are pleased to be able to cooperate with the Auditor in this case and any other investigations across the state,” said Larry B. Brown, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation. “MDOT has many district offices and employees, and I hope this investigation sends a vital message to not only MDOT employees but all public employees that corruption will not be tolerated. We stand ready to cooperate with any investigation and appreciate the Auditor allowing our law enforcement division to assist his Investigations staff in this case.”
James Kevin Ellis, 45 of Benton, was indicted on eleven counts: four counts of embezzlement; three counts of making false entries in public records; three counts of obtaining public funds fraudulently and two counts of conspiracy. He has been employed with MDOT since April 1999. It is alleged that Ellis took and sold equipment owned by MDOT and negotiated and approving illegitimate invoices being billed and paid by MDOT for personal purchases. The State Auditor’s Office seeks $4,542.20 in recovery from Ellis.
Clarence Shelton, 56 of Benton, was indicted on sixteen counts: one count of embezzlement; six counts of fraudulently obtaining public funds; six counts of making false entries in public records; and three counts of conspiracy. He began employment with MDOT in October 1989. Shelton is charged with embezzling 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. Total funds sought in recovery against Shelton are $4,217.51.
Gene Edward Taylor, 35 of Yazoo City, was indicted on three counts: conspiracy, fraudulently obtaining public funds and making false entries in public records. He began employment with MDOT in January 2007. The investigation determined Taylor benefited from MDOT’s payment for a part to be used on his personal vehicle. Total funds sought in recovery is $1,069.20.
Ivory Luckett, 51 of Satartia, was indicted on two counts: embezzlement and conspiracy. Luckett began employment with MDOT in May 2000. Allegedly, 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. Total funds sought in recovery total $244.22.
James D. Malone, 53 of Yazoo City, was indicted on three counts: fraudulently obtaining public funds, making false entries in public record and conspiracy. He has been employed with MDOT since January 1995. The investigation 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. Total sought in recovery against Malone is $161.19.