Mayor’s check tapped by court; Winfield appeals

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 22, 2010

A Hinds County judge has ordered Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield’s city paycheck garnished to satisfy a debt a collection agency says the mayor owes St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Winfield, an attorney, has responded by filing a motion asking the court to set aside both its order to pay the hospital from the mayor’s salary and an earlier ruling in favor of the collection agency’s claim. Judge Houston Patton will review the mayor’s pleading Thursday at 9 a.m., court administrator Sylvia Bennett said.

Click here for state tax liens against Superior Oil & Supply, LLC

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Click here for Superior’s corporate documents

Click here for documents from Advanced Recovery lawsuit against Paul Winfield

Click here for documents from Dutch Lubricants lawsuit against Superior Oil & Supply

Separately, in Warren County, an oil distribution business that lists Winfield as “manager” is named in four state tax liens and a lawsuit that accuses it of defaulting on a debt to another company, documents recorded by Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley-Palmertree say. The records accuse the mayor of writing a bad check.

Winfield said he was not aware of the tax liens and declined to discuss the ongoing litigation against the company, Superior Oil & Supply, LLC.  He said the St. Dominic accusations stemmed from his insurer’s refusal to pay charges he incurred after a visit to the hospital on July 5, 2006. 

“I think it is totally inappropriate to print this in the newspaper,” Winfield added. “That is my comment.”

Winfield, 36, makes $81,033.68 as mayor, a job that includes serving as treasurer of the city budget of more than $31 million. He also serves as Port Gibson’s city attorney, which he has said pays about $30,000 per year.

The mayor’s original debt to St. Dominic was $3,557.34, according to court filings by Stephen E. Gardner, a Jackson attorney who represents Advanced Recovery Systems Inc.

St. Dominic sold the debt to Advanced last June, a letter from the hospital to the collection agency shows. In August, Advanced sued Winfield for the amount of the debt, plus attorney fees, court costs and interest. It won a default judgment in November after Winfield “failed to plead or otherwise defend” the charges, a ruling signed by Patton says.

Subsequently, the city received a writ of garnishment that notified it of the judgment against Winfield, included questions related to the mayor’s salary and outlined a procedure by which portions of the pay should be withheld for payment to Gardner, the collection agency lawyer. 

“This letter is to inform you that Paul Winfield is an employee of the City of Vicksburg Administration Department,” Deputy City Clerk Tasha Wynn replied in correspondence dated Dec. 1.  “He is paid biweekly and at the appropriate time, we will begin payroll deductions.”

On Dec. 15, Patton ordered the city clerk’s office to withhold portions of Winfield’s salary and pay them to Gardner monthly until the amount of the judgment is satisfied. Eight days later, the mayor filed his motion to set aside the garnishment order and default judgment.

At the same time that Winfield’s personal finances were being scrutinized by the Hinds County Court, a company based in Columbus, Miss., was seeking a judgment in Warren County Circuit Court against Superior Oil & Supply.

Superior has failed to pay $5,439.07 for petroleum products that it ordered from Dutch Lubricants, LLC, from September 2008 to February 2009, according to a lawsuit filed by Dutch on Dec. 15 in Circuit Court.  The suit demands payment of the debt, attorney fees, court costs and interest.

It says that, “On April 30, 2009, after numerous requests for payment on the account, Superior’s manager Paul E. Winfield issued a check to Dutch in full and final payment of the past due amount owed by Superior. However, the check sent back due to a lack of sufficient funds in Superior’s bank account.” 

Attached to Dutch’s complaint is a copy of the $5,439.07 check was marked “‘Full + Final Payment’” that appears to bear Winfield’s signature.

On Monday, Winfield filed an answer to the complaint that denied Dutch’s claims.

In addition to the suit, Superior is the subject of four lien notices enrolled in Warren County Circuit Court by the Mississippi Tax Commission. The liens say the firm is a combined $4,576.71 in arrears on sales taxes it owes to the state. Enrolled last September and October, the liens have yet to be satisfied, circuit court records show. They cover payments due for periods from October 2008 to February 2009.

Winfield is listed as Superior’s sole “manager” in documents filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office. He “is vested with primary control over daily operations of the company to include signing checks and pricing of oil products and supplies,” the company’s certificate of formation says. The address of its corporate office, 1900B Cherry St., was once used by Winfield.

Winfield’s Facebook page listed him as the “owner” of Superior Thursday, but he said that wasn’t accurate.

“I am affiliated with (Superior.) I do not own it,” he said. 

Contact Ben Bryant at