Former code enforcement officer pleads guilty to insurance fraud charge

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, September 18, 2013

NATCHEZ The Natchez code enforcement officer arrested in June for insurance fraud pleaded guilty to the charge Friday.

Adams County Circuit Court Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders sentenced Willie B. Jones, 58, 4 N. Sunflower Road, to pay all court costs, a $500 fine, $100 to the victim’s compensation fund, $2,115 to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office for investigation costs and $2,200 in restitution to Progressive Insurance Company.

Jones also received two years of probation.

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Jones’ co-defendant, Demiko Lashea Smith, who is supposedly related to Jones, also pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and received the same sentence.

The crime occurred when Jones and Smith worked together to defraud Progressive after a car accident with a deer.

Attorney General Spokeswoman Jan Schaefer said that Jones was the driver and lone occupant of Smith’s vehicle when he hit a deer. At the time of the accident the vehicle was not covered by insurance. Smith instructed Jones to obtain insurance on the vehicle. He did, and Smith filed a police report stating the damage occurred after the insurance was purchased. Jones later filed a claim for the damage.

Jones and Smith were also charged with conspiracy. The attorney general’s office dropped those charges.

Mayor Butch Brown said the city fired Jones Monday. Jones had been on administrative leave without pay since his arrest.

The city will replace Jones with another code enforcement officer, which Brown said likely would be a Natchez police officer.

Brown said all beat patrol officers are being briefed on code violations and will be enforcing violations, such as overgrown grass, abandoned vehicles, litter, illegal signs and other violations.

A patrol officer, Brown said, would soon be assigned to code enforcement. The officer will act as the code enforcement officer but still retain other duties, too, Brown said.

“His duty will primarily be code enforcement, but he could still do beat patrol or emergency calls,” Brown said.