BASSFIELD, Miss.--Boats, trailers, heavy equipment-over $300,000 worth of king-sized surplus property bought by Brenda Saulters and Billy Matthews (below), who were Bassfield city employees. The problem, a property probe by State Auditor Stacey Pickering and crew uncovered that the two had bought the goods under the Surplus Property Program. That allows governments to buy things at a low cost.
The problem-it was a setup, says Pickering. His crew believes Saulters and Matthews never meant to purchase the boats, the trailers or the heavy equipment for the city. He says they converted it to their own use. They were able to get the $300,000 worth of equipment for only about $52,000.
Charges against the two include false pretense, embezzelment and conspiracy. They turned themselves in Tuesday to Rankin County deputies after being indicted. Their court appearance is expected Friday morning.
"Following our investigation, our office turned over our case to the Rankin County District Attorney for prosecution, and I appreciate DA Michael Guest's efforts in returning these multiple count indictments" said Pickering. "Our agents, along with the staff of Surplus Property and the City of Bassfield, were able to recover 22 items from the individuals who were using them for personal use and return to the State of Mississippi."
This is the second announcement of a public corruption case this week. Monday Odessa Johnson, the former city clerk of Sardis, was sentenced to prison for skimming $30,000 from water and sewer payments and the city credit card.