Embezzlement case might grow

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NATCHEZ — An ongoing investigation of Adams County Maintenance Supervisor Allen Jones might reveal additional illegal activities and persons involved, Justice Court Judge Charlie Vess said Monday.

Vess arraigned Jones, 52, 43 Kingston Road, Monday afternoon on embezzlement charges after Jones reportedly sold a county-purchased air conditioning unit to a local church and then pocketed the money.

After the arraignment, Vess said Attorney General Investigator Roger Cribbs, who is handling the prosecution of the case, suggested in court that the ongoing investigation of Jones carries with it a “strong possibility that there are additional legal matters that (Jones) may be involved with or have knowledge of.”

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Vess said Cribbs also suggested persons other than Jones might be involved in the embezzlement charges or in other illegal activities. Cribs did not confirm if other individuals involved were county employees, “but he did not rule it out,” Vess said.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors also discussed Jones’ arrest in its regular meeting Monday morning.

District 2 Supervisor Henry Watts said he believed the investigation with might uncover more players and more crimes.

“I have a feeling that the recently discovered (embezzlement) is just not a one-time incident,” Watts said.

“I think (the illegal activity) is much larger and much bigger than one person.”

When Watts made the above comment, Board President Darryl Grennell suggested the subject matter was better suited for executive session.

“If we go to executive session — nothing is going to happen,” Watts said.

“If we had discussed things in open session, (the embezzlement) probably wouldn’t have happened.”

Watts said the board has been notified about suspicions of embezzlement in two departments in the past and did not publicly scrutinize the allegations. Watts did not specify details about the past suspicions at the meeting.

“This board has been very lenient and understanding and compassionate in wanting to help and give (employees) chances that you can’t get in the open market.”

Watts said the board did request the attorney general’s office launch the current investigation of Jones.

Watts proposed a motion for the attorney general’s office to investigate the maintenance department’s actions over the past year, including transactions with vendors, providers, contracts and bidding.

Grennell called for a vote to go into executive session to further discuss what Watts was proposing, and the vote passed by majority to go into executive session with Watts voting against entering the closed session.

No action was taken on Watts’ motion to give the attorney general’s office instructions on investigating the maintenance department when the board re-entered open session.

Vess said Jones’s lawyer Pamela Ferrington requested a preliminary hearing for Jones at his arraignment, which Vess said would likely be scheduled for late January. A preliminary hearing for felony crimes allows both parties a chance to prove probable cause to determine if the case will be bound over to a grand jury in circuit court.