Auditor’s spokesman: No comment on Natchez investigation

Published 3:22 pm Monday, November 22, 2021

NATCHEZ — A spokesman for Mississippi State Auditor Shad White’s office said he could not comment on an investigation sent to the auditor’s office by the City of Natchez.

“I know there is an investigation that was sent to us, but I cannot tell you where it stands,” said Logan Reeves, who works in public relations for the state auditor’s office. He also said he could not provide a timeline for any investigation.

On Nov. 17, Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson, responding to questions from The Natchez Democrat, issued a statement about a financial discrepancy found in city funds.

Gibson said he was made aware late on Friday, Nov. 12 that a “questionable transfer of city funds into external accounts had taken place.”

“On Saturday morning at 9 a.m., I reported this matter to the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office, who agreed that the city should take immediate steps to address the situation,” he said.

Gibson asked the Natchez Police Department to begin an internal investigation, which was completed and turned over to the auditor’s office.

Gibson did not name a person or city department involved in the discrepancy.

However, former Natchez City Clerk Servia Fortenberry contacted The Natchez Democrat, saying the “questionable” transfer of funds was not questionable. Rather, she said, it consisted of regular payroll, vacation and compensation time due her. Fortenberry said as city clerk she handled payroll for the city and she was still city clerk at the time and initiated the payment.

Fortenberry submitted her resignation as city clerk on Oct. 12. Her last day to work was Monday, Nov. 15.

Reeves did give an outline of sorts as to how an investigation submitted to the auditor’s office is handled.

“When we receive some sort of allegation of misspent money, the auditor’s office begins an initial investigation. If it is determined to warrant it, then a full-scale investigation will go forward,” he said.

“The goal is to identify misspent public dollars and recover those,” Reeves said.