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Accounts Frozen: Circuit Clerk Removed From Office, Locks Changed

VICKSBURG, Miss.–Getting the boot in a major way, that was Warren County Circuit Clerk Ashley Palmertree, who has been under indictment and investigation for embezzlement. But it wasn’t money that put the final nail in the coffin of her career.

It was residency requirements.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted her out for having a Madison County address, which was where she said she lived in an affidavit at one of her last hearings.

State law requires elected officials to live in their jurisdiction.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering said his agency’s Investigative Division had been asked by Warren County supervisors to work with them to verify Palmertree’s residence.  Investigators from the Office of the State Auditor presented the affidavit from the Madison County School District signed by Palmertree on July 23, 2013, attesting that she was a permanent resident of Canton. 

She’s accused of bilking the county of more than $800,000, either by directly taking it or bad mismanagement.

“We are grateful to the Auditor’s Office for assisting us with this unusual set of circumstances.  Fortunately, this kind of situation does not occur very often and we appreciate an office with statewide jurisdiction assisting us with this local matter,” said Board Pres. Bill Lauderdale.

Pickering praised the five-member board for taking action to remove Ms. Palmertree from office.

“The taxpayers of Warren County should praise them as well,” he said.

Demands issued to Palmertree are pending in Hinds County Chancery Court.  In January 2014 she was indicted on three counts of felony embezzlement by a Warren County Grand Jury.

“Today’s action by the board removes her from the position of overseeing Warren County’s business which is a good move,” said Pickering.

Immediately following the hearing, the board had locks changed on doors to the circuit clerk’s office and issued an order to freeze civil and criminal bank accounts under Ms. Palmertree’s control.   OSA investigators and auditors conducted a count of all cash and checks, and reviewed documents and other accounts under the clerk’s authority.  The office remained closed Monday to conduct the accounting procedures.

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