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Winfield’s home sold, divorce terms still subject of court action

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 16, 2014

The stately, two-story home at Mulvihill and Drummond streets once home to former Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield sold in June under conditions resulting from a divorce in October 2013 between the jailed former mayor and his wife, Malissa, according to county land records.

Sale documents filed Aug. 5 in land records show the home, at 1211 Mulvihill St., was sold to Charles Pendleton, the owner of Mobile One Lube Express, for an undisclosed sum. A reservation of vendor’s lien from BancorpSouth accompanied the transaction, as did a statement within customary legal title language that said Malissa Winfield had her name changed back to Malissa Wilson as a result of a final divorce decree from Chancellor Marie Wilson on Nov. 4, 2013.

Linda E. Winfield, the former mayor’s mother, signed the warranty deed as attorney-in-fact pursuant to power-of-attorney granted to her three days before the ex-mayor reported to federal prison to start a 25-month sentence for bribery.

Winfield pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Sept. 16, 2013 to one count of bribery involving a pre-disaster cleanup contract that was never awarded. The one-term mayor is serving time in a minimum-security facility in Montgomery, Ala., and will be released from custody Oct. 28, 2015, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

The guilty plea came six months after a sexual harassment lawsuit filed in 2012 by the mayor’s former chief of staff settled for an undisclosed sum. Kenya Burks, who filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Jackson after filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over her job title being eliminated, had asked for $1.5 million in damages in the case. Though the suit had also included the city, attempts by The Vicksburg Post through the Freedom of Information Act to ascertain with clarity from the city clerk’s office the amount of the settlement were unsuccessful. City officials have said the settlement would be absorbed in the form of higher premiums in the city’s liability insurance.

The Winfields separated April 22, 2011, according to the final divorce decree signed by the Greenville-based chancery judge. Custody of the couple’s 8-year-old son, Paul, is to be shared and child support terms were set at $550 monthly for 15 years and the younger Winfield’s college education must be split equally, the decree says. Debt on the Mulvihill house was to be transferred to a second mortgage — a stipulation ostensibly declared moot by the lien being vacated in the recent sale — and a previous home they shared, on Main Street, was to be placed on the market, the decree said.

A litany of personal property is listed in the divorce settlement. Fifty-eight of the 65 items go to Malissa Wilson, as per the property settlement agreement — including most of the furniture, an array of china and eating utensils, two crystal vases, an Egyptian privacy screen, a brass mirror, a 2007 Mercedes, a collection of artwork that included a print of President Barack Obama, African fertility dolls and an African mask. The seven items left for the former mayor included a collection of antique furniture — precisely, a an armoire, bar, guest bedroom set, sofa and cedar chest — a walnut tree and the living room piano.

Travis Vance Jr. represented the former mayor in the divorce proceedings. Jackson-based attorney Bridgette Clayton represented Malissa Wilson, also an attorney.

The most recent case event was a petition to enforce the settlement, which Wilson herself filed in December. In it, she asked the court to compel Winfield to adhere to the settlement terms by placing the Mulvihill house on the market. Proceeds would be shared only after Wilson is paid back for assuming the back taxes and an array of other debts on the house.

Wilson said the property taxes hadn’t been paid in three years, putting the home in danger of being sold at tax sale. The Burks case is mentioned in general terms in a reference to the onetime staffer as a “paramour” in a narrative of the couple’s marriage after buying the Mulvihill house in 2010.