Authorities in Mississippi said a former Warren County official with direct access to a wide range of funds embezzled six figures over a period of nearly a year beginning in late 2017.
According to WLBT, Paula Hunt was the office bookkeeper for the county’s tax collector’s office and had the power to move its funds between bank accounts.
A grand jury found sufficient evidence to indict her on charges of embezzlement by a public official.
State Auditor Shad White said the case shows a lack of oversight within the office.
“Paula Hunt had too much control over the money that flowed through her office, and that control gave her the opportunity to embezzle a large amount of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “Public officials around the state need to be aware of this example and need to review their own offices to see who might have the opportunity to steal in the same way Hunt did.”
In addition to the indictment, authorities issued Hunt a demand letter for funds totaling $165,329,98. She is expected to be financially liable for the entire amount even though her position was covered by a surety bond in the amount of $50,000.
She could be be sentenced to 20 years behind bars if convicted and could additionally face up to a $5,000 fine.
“It doesn’t matter how much you might personally trust your employees,” White warned. “Be sure no one person has too much control over cash.”
[Featured image: Paula Hunt, mugshot]