Judge orders Palmertree to repay $818,251
Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 4, 2015
Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas has ordered jailed former Warren County Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley-Palmertree to pay more than $800,000 in restitution for excessive salary above the state-set cap for circuit and chancery clerks and questionable subcontractor payments to her father and predecessor in office, Larry Ashley.
“A judgment has been entered against her in the amount of $818,251.75,” Attorney Marcie Southerland said. “The issue remaining that’s yet to be resolved by the court is the liability of CNA Surety Company.
“Judge Thomas will enter a ruling on that at some point in time.”
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Southerland is planning to brief the Board of Supervisors Monday on the case.
“Until I find out everything for sure, it’s really hard for me to comment,” Board of Supervisors president Bill Lauderdale said. “It sounds like at least we got a good judgment on that. I was waiting for some judge to bring down some kind of verdict on what she actually admitting doing and more.”
Filed by Palmertree against the county and State Auditor Stacey Pickering in March 2013, the case’s central issue is whether she owes the county $671,751.75 in excessive salary above the state-set cap for circuit and chancery clerks and questionable subcontractor payments to her father and predecessor in office, Larry Ashley.
The amounts cover activity from 2006 through 2011. The state and county countersued and contend the payments were improper. The state and county amended their complaint to include payments in 2012 deemed improper, bringing the total claim to more than $1.04 million.
Court-ordered mediation talks began in December 2013 and broke down a month later. The case was continued after three days of testimony last April.
On January 13, lawyers for Palmertree moved to dismiss her complaint in the nearly two-year civil case in Hinds County Chancery Court.
Thomas directed attorneys for the county and state to prepare a finding of facts and terms of a summary judgment by Feb. 16.
CNA Surety, a third party in the case, which had fought in court reimbursing any improper financial activity, had until March 16 to respond. The state and county then had until March 30 to respond to any response from the bonding company.
Palmertree is serving a five-year prison sentence in the Central Mississippi Satellite Facility for women in Flowood for embezzling $12,000 from her office’s civil and criminal accounts in 2012. She pleaded guilty Monday to stealing $103,736.75 meant for restitution of crime victims from an account under her care between Jan. 1, 2013, until supervisors removed her from office May 15, 2014, after OSA investigators turned up evidence she had declared residence in Canton in 2013.
“From start to finish, from February 2013 until this past Monday it’s been a little over two years, she’s been removed from office, she has been twice convicted of embezzlement and there’s a $818,000 judgement that’s been rendered against her.” Southerland said. “In the system as it is, with all the trials we’ve been through, and we’ve been back and forth to the Supreme Court with several issues. I actually think it’s moved rather rapidly.”