SuperTalk Mississippi

State Auditor issues demand to deceased Chancery Clerk

State Auditor Shad White. Photo by News Mississippi

State Auditor Shad White has issued a pricey demand to the estate of the former Wilkinson County Chancery Clerk, the late Thomas C. Tolliver. The demand states Tolliver exceeded the fee cap for his position and failed to reimburse the county for employee salary expenses.

“Thomas Tolliver’s estate owes the taxpayers of Wilkinson County a sizable amount for money he never should have been paid,” said White. “My office has a responsibility to demand that money regardless of whether the subject of the demand is deceased.”

Tolliver died on August 21, 2018, and was, at the time, the longest-serving chancery clerk currently in office in Mississippi.

White said in Mississippi, chancery clerks are compensated for work based on the volume of services provided by their office. The clerks collect fees for those services. After paying or reimbursing the county for their employees’ salaries and deducting allowed expenses from the fee account, a chancery clerk may receive annual compensation of up to $90,000 from the fees. Any additional fees received by the clerk must be transferred to the county general fund. An investigation concluded that Tolliver exceeded the maximum allowable compensation for his position and failed to transfer over $160,000 to the county general fund from 2008 to 2016.

Chancery clerks are also required to pay their employees’ salaries from the fees they collect.  The investigation into Tolliver revealed that from 2013 to 2018, Wilkinson County—not Tolliver’s fee account—paid Tolliver’s employees’ salaries, and Tolliver failed to reimburse the county over $300,000.

The total demand issued to Tolliver’s estate is $673,094.91 and includes investigative costs and interest.

“The demand issued against the Tolliver estate is the result of years of mishandling money,” said White. “I want to commend our investigators for working quickly and carefully in this case. After we were tipped off about the mishandled money, we needed to conclude this investigation in time for the taxpayers to have a stake in the estate before the estate was closed. Credit goes to our special agents for moving this case to completion in a timely way.”

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