4 current or ex-Meridian officers charged in embezzlement, attorneys fight charges
(AP) — Defense attorneys said Thursday that they will fight embezzlement charges brought against some current or former police officers in Meridian, Mississippi.
Federal indictments of four people were unsealed Wednesday, the same day that each appeared before a magistrate judge and pleaded not guilty. They were released on bond.
Court records show Meridian Police Department Capt. James F. “Jay” Arrington, 62, was indicted on two counts of theft and embezzlement of more than $22,000 during 2016 and 2017.
“We don’t have any basis to believe that there’s any accuracy in the allegations of criminal conduct,” one of Arrington’s attorneys, Greg Malta, told The Associated Press on Thursday. “He’s had an honorable career in the police department.”
Arrington is on medical leave, Malta said.
Former Sgt. Dareall D. Thompson is a previous officer of the year for the Meridian Police Department, his attorney, Joe Hollomon, said in a separate interview.
Thompson, 41, was indicted on two counts of theft and embezzlement of more than $14,000 between October 2016 and September 2018.
“I look forward to establishing that there was absolutely no wrongdoing on my client’s part,” Hollomon said.
Hollomon said he plans to point out “major problems” with the city of Meridian’s record keeping.
Hollomon said Thompson was terminated from the police department nearly a year ago and is awaiting a civil service hearing as he appeals that decision. Thompson continues to work as a security officer for Meridian schools.
Officer Tenesia A. Evans, 37, was indicted on one count of theft and embezzlement of $5,779 between October 2017 and September 2018. Court records did not list an attorney for Evans.
Former officer Erica L. Harmon, 51, was indicted on one count of theft and embezzlement of $5,073 between August 2018 and February 2019. The AP left a message for Harmon’s attorney on Thursday.
Each of the current or former officers faces maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for theft from an agency receiving federal funds, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst. Trials are scheduled to begin June 8 for Thompson, June 22 for Arrington and Harmon and July 6 for Evans, each before a different federal judge.
The indictments were issued Nov. 6 but remained secret until they were unsealed.
(AP) — A Republican state lawmaker filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a Democratic mayor’s temporary ban on the open carry... read more