Vicksburg gets $16,000 check in payback from embezzlement

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The City of Vicksburg has received a $16,193 check from the State Auditor’s Office to cover part of the city funds embezzled by former city employee Barry Graham, Mayor Paul Winfield said Monday.

Winfield announced receiving the check about an hour after a meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Graham, 57, the former TV23 director, pleaded guilty in Warren County Circuit Court on July 30, 2010, to a felony embezzlement charge involving about $25,000 to $30,000 in city funds used to buy electronics for his personal use.

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Circuit Judge M. James Chaney placed Graham on five years’ probation, fined him $1,500 and ordered him to repay the city $21,715 and $4,455 in interest for city funds used to buy the electronics and audio equipment in two months from September to November 2009.

Graham was never arrested, charged with a crime or indicted, but pleaded guilty to information contained in a report by investigators for the State Auditor’s Office.

“It feels good to get this money back,” Winfield said. “As elected officials, we are stewards of the public’s money, and we must remain conscious of how it is used. We are responsible to the taxpayers, and if we find that a city official or employee is spending city money illegally, we must take the proper routes to see that it is returned.”

Graham’s plea was the result of an investigation by the auditor’s office into a complaint from Winfield in September 2009 about the apparent misuse of funds in the TV23 department, which is the city’s cable TV channel.

Police and an auditor’s investigator seized audio equipment, lighting equipment and CDs from Graham’s home on Goodrum Road. Graham has since moved to Oakman, Ala., according to information from the Warren County District Attorney’s Office.

Graham, who also was responsible for city communications and advertising, was placed on unpaid leave on Oct. 5, 2009, five days after the equipment was seized. He was fired at his attorney’s request on July 9, 2010.