Circuit clerk to examine accounts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NATCHEZ — Adams County Circuit Clerk Eddie Walker is about to begin an in-depth investigation into three checking accounts he inherited when he took office to determine where a large sum of money goes.

Walker said the three accounts cover criminal, civil and garnishment funds. The accounts were used to collect and disburse funds.

For instance, Walker said if a party were ordered to pay restitution in a criminal case the money would be given to the county, placed in the criminal account, then given to the party to receive restitution.

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Walker said the three accounts contain a “substantial sum of money.”

He has known about the accounts since shortly after he took office, Walker said, but they were frozen by the county while Walker was settling into his new position.

Walker asked for such measures, since previous Circuit Clerk M.L. “Binkey” Vines faced charges due to repeated accounting woes.

“That was an abundance of caution on my part,” he said.

When Walker took office he said he wanted to establish a very clear line between his administration and Vines’.

And Walker’s take over of the unused accounts won’t be any different.

Walker said he plans to have the money transferred into a new account that will specifically meant to handle the old Vines accounts.

“There won’t be any commingling with his accounts,” he said. “They’ll be totally separate and kept that way.”

But not much else can happen until Walker takes control of the accounts.

Walker said he did not know if there was any wrongdoing associated with the accounts.

During the last county audit, Vines did not provide copies of his ledgers of the criminal, civil and garnishment journals.

Once Walker takes control of the accounts, an examination will reveal who owes money to the county and who is owed money by the county.

Walker said that won’t be a quick process and he’s already been approached by 15-20 people who claim they are owed money from the accounts.

Walker said the entire situation was like an accounting nightmare.

To address that nightmare the Adams County Board of Supervisors amended Walker’s budget to hire a new part-time accountant specifically to work through the accounts.

Walker said he has no idea how long it would take to work backward through the accounts.

County attorney Bobby Cox said it won’t be an easy task.

“Due to lack of records it will be a slow, painstaking process to see who gets what,” he said.

“And we want to make sure it all gets to the right hands.”