Miss. AG files motion to accept Vines’ plea

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 2, 2007

NATCHEZ —Attorney General Jim Hood has filed a motion asking that Adams County Circuit Clerk M.L. “Binkey” Vines be sentenced for his crimes.

Vines pleaded guilty earlier this year to embezzlement but the judge refused to accept his the plea and did not sentence Vines.

“We were informed on Oct. 26, that Mr. Vines had failed to comply with the court’s order regarding his initial plea. After our investigation, we immediately filed a motion to revoke Vines’ non-adjudication, to accept his guilty plea on the three pending felony charges and to immediately proceed to sentence Vines in this matter,” Hood said.

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Vines’ failure to comply occurred when he refused to provide his office’s records to the county auditor Switzer, Hopkins and Mange.

On Sept. 26, 2006, Vines was indicted on 13 counts of embezzlement.

On May 4, 2007, Vines pleaded guilty to three counts on the original indictment.

However Judge Joe Webster, an out-of- town judge appointed to the case, withheld the acceptance of the Vines’ guilty plea and placed Vines on probation.

When Vines, according to Webster’s ruling, refused to provide his records for the Adams County audit he was in direct violation of the court order and thereby violated his probation.

Webster’s order said Vines must “fully comply with all applicable regulations and procedures prescribed by the state auditor’s office of the State of Mississippi.”

On Thursday, Webster, said he had no knowledge of the attorney general’s motion.

State Auditor Phil Bryant said Vines’ failure to cooperate was a very serious offense.

“It’s has been difficult from the beginning,” Bryant said. “The bottom line is we believe he’s in violation of the court order to cooperate with the state auditor’s office and the AG decided it was time to move.”

Hood’s document says, “The Adams County contract auditor, Switzer, Hopkins and Mange, has made numerous attempts to obtain the defendant’s source materials to no avail.”

Still missing are the county’s fee journals for 2005 and 2006 and the civil, criminal and garnishment journals for 2006.

Vines said he was surprised to learn of Hood’s motion. Vines also said that all to the records in question are in his office but no one has ever come to pick them up.

Those missing records document large sums of money that came into Adams County.

“Said journals are necessary to conduct the annual Adams County audit,” Hood said in his document.