$66,646

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 20, 2002

returned to city after state auditor’s probe

[08/20/02]State Auditor Phil Bryant presented the City of Vicksburg a $66,646 check Monday following a two-year investigation into thefts involving two city employees and the former manager of a city supply company.

Former city employee Charles Don Robinson, 57, of Vicksburg and the former manager of Consolidated Pipe’s Jackson branch, Marian Evon Leigh, 64, of Brandon pleaded guilty in June to federal charges of bribery.

They each face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines when sentenced in October. Part of the deal also required them to make restitution to the city for equipment they received using false invoices billed to the public treasury.

In addition, the state also recovered $10,000 in investigative fees, Bryant said.

“We hope this will send a clear and lasting message to people who work for government,” Bryant said. “The Audit Department will not tolerate corruption in the State of Mississippi.”

Robinson, a city employee for 18 years, had been the superintendent of the water main department. In the plea, he admitted receiving $5,678 worth of equipment.

Leigh had admitted receiving or helping employees of the city receive $50,574 worth of equipment. The late Raiford “Junior” Wigley, former superintendent of the gas department, was also named during the investigation.

“I hope this sends a message to all of our employees that we will not tolerate theft,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens.

The investigation began during the administration of former Mayor Robert Walker after discrepancies were discovered on invoices from Consolidated Pipe, which supplies water and gas plumbing and valves. The city did about $300,000 worth of business with the company between April 1999 and April 2000 when the investigation began.

Over the years, Robinson, Leigh and Wigley received flatbed trailers, heaters, shotguns, mobile cranes, water heaters, well pumps and other items, all charged to the city, according to the charges. The items were billed from Consolidated Pipe as pipe and valves.

State Audit investigators have said that the scheme went as far back as 1993. The Vicksburg Police Department, State Audit, Attorney General’s Office and FBI worked together on the investigation, Bryant said.

Bryant also credits city officials who assisted in the investigation.

Robinson and Leigh were charged on May 23 and surrendered a few days later. Robinson was suspended from the city and resigned June 1.