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Indianola aldermen hit with demands over misappropriated funds

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State Auditor Shad White is demanding three Indianola aldermen pay back money that he believes was misappropriated.

According to a press release from White’s office, special agents served Aldermen Ruben Woods, Marvin Elder, and Sam Block, Jr. on Tuesday morning with civil demands totaling $42,441.15 after the three collectively misappropriated $38,900 in public funds to be paid to Spencer Construction in the absence of a binding contract.

In September 2019, the city of Indianola entered a contract with Mississippi Home Corporation (MHC) to receive grant funds to be used for rehabilitation and reconstruction of homes owned by low-income residents. South Delta Planning and Development District (SDPDD) was selected to perform administrative services related to the grant.

Spencer Construction was contracted for renovations to a residency, which was to be paid through the MHC grant. However, SDPDD submitted the paperwork requesting payment after the deadline, causing the request to be denied.

After the request was denied, Woods, Elder, and Brock, Jr. all voted late last year to pay Spencer Construction $38,900 despite the city of Indianola not having any written contract for the work provided, according to White. None are being charged with a crime, but they are being required to pay back the amount dished out plus interest.

“It’s vitally important that government officials follow the proper process for spending taxpayer funds,” White said. “This is what helps guarantee those funds are not misused.”

White’s office has been investigating the case since earlier this year, with sources confirming that Indianola’s city attorney advised the board multiple times before the motion that paying Spencer would not be legal.

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