North MS police chief, former clerk arrested for embezzlement, forgery

Published 10:00 am Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Calhoun City police chief and a former Itawamba County clerk have been arrested by agents from the office of State Auditor Shad White.

Wednesday, White announced the arrests of Police Chief LaTana Williams for embezzlement and Itawamba County Soil and Water Conservation District former clerk Polly Tutor for embezzlement and forgery.

Williams allegedly submitted time sheets claiming to be on the clock as police chief while actually working a second job at a retail business. A comparison of time sheets showed she was paid more than $6,700 for hours she did not work. Her demand letter shows she owes $10,793.99 to residents of Calhoun City.

The auditor’s office was contacted by local officials when Williams was absent during an emergency call in early 2019. Her scheme allegedly began in late fall 2018.

Tutor is accused of making unauthorized purchases with a district debit card, as well as writing unauthorized checks from the SWCD’s beaver control program to herself and others. Signatures on the checks are believed to have been forged. From June 2014-August 2020, Tutor purportedly embezzled more than $25,000. When interest and investigative expenses are included, Tutor owes $37,215.02 to Itawamba County taxpayers.

SWCD commissioners contacted the Auditor’s office when a tax lien was filed against the District for nonpayment of payroll taxes. Investigators confirmed multiple District-controlled bank accounts had been depleted as a result of Tutor’s scheme.

Tutor’s bond was set at $10,000 in Itawamba County, and the court set a $25,000 bond for Williams in Calhoun County.

“Our team of investigators (continues) to do great work, just like the rest of the staff here at the Auditor’s office,” said White. “We will hold the line on theft of taxpayer dollars no matter where we find it.”

If convicted, Tutor faces up to 25 years in prison and $60,000 in fines. Williams faces up to 20 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. All persons arrested by the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

No surety bond covers Tutor’s employment as a clerk for the Itawamba County Soil and Water Conservation District. A $50,000 surety bond covers Williams’s time as Police Chief of Calhoun City. Surety bonds are similar to insurance designed to protect taxpayers from corruption. Both women will remain liable for the full amount of the demand in addition to criminal proceedings.

Suspected fraud can be reported to the Auditor’s office online any time by clicking the red button at www.osa.ms.gov or via telephone during normal business hours at 800-321-1275.