Mayor sold house to man hired by city days later

Published 11:56 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mayor Paul Winfield sold a house that had been targeted for foreclosure to a former city employee days before the man was rehired.

The house at 1118 Main St. — next door to Winfield’s home at 1116 Main — was vacant in February when it was legally advertised for foreclosure.

Winfield had bought the house at 1118 Main from former city employee Malcolm Carson in 2008 and sold it back to him on March 26.

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Carson, who said he left the city’s employ in 2010 “over disagreements with the Winfield administration,” said Tuesday that he became Community Service director April 2. He had held the same position during the Laurence Leyens administration and two years of the Winfield term, which began in 2009.

He said he sought re-employment by the city this year when his health insurance, which he had purchased through the city, was about to run out.

Carson said he bought the house back because it is adjacent to his wife’s bail bond company, at 1127 Openwood St. After renovating the house, he is renting it to his grandson, he said.

“I’m a businessman, and that was a good business deal for me,” he said. “I did not buy my job back.”

Carson and his wife, Rose Carson, own at least 18 properties in Vicksburg, according to land records.

Land records in the Warren County Chancery Court Clerk’s Office showed the home was transferred from Winfield back to Carson on Feb. 29, but that transfer was subject to approval by Guaranty Bank and Trust Co., which had foreclosed. On March 26, Malcolm and Rose Carson were issued a deed of trust from the bank for the property.

Winfield initially declined to name the buyer of the house.

“I’ve been buying and selling properties for a decade now, that’s not new,” Winfield said when asked who purchased the foreclosed house.

“I have a lot of employees, many whom I’ve done business with in the past,” Winfield said.

Winfield and Malcolm Carson declined to say how much the house cost.

Tax records at the Warren County Tax Assessor’s office put the value at $10,410, but the deed of trust issued March 26 lists the amount owed on the principal as $26,896.

According to county records, Winfield owns another vacant house, at 602 Farmer St., valued by the assessor’s office at $25,200.

He also bought a home on the northeast corner of Mulvihill and Drummond street in 2011.

Malcolm Carson said he left the city in 2010 because of disagreements with the Winfield administration but immediately regretted the decision.

“It was a bad decision on my part to leave,” he said. “I got frustrated about something I shouldn’t have.”

At the time of his resignation, he said, he felt that he was being unfairly targeted because he was a holdover from the Leyens administration.

“I left to keep out of trouble,” he said.

When Carson returned to the city he took a pay decrease of more than $4 per hour, according to files obtained through a Freedom of Information request. In 2010 he was paid $18.54 per hour, but his re-employment pay rate is $14 per hour.