A former utility clerk for Pearl River was arrested and booked on theft this week following an investigation by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office into money missing from the town’s bank account.
Crystal Folse, who lives in Picayune, Mississippi, turned herself in to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday and was booked on felony theft between $750 and $5,000. She was released Wednesday on a $7,500 bond.
Pearl River Mayor David McQueen contacted the Sheriff’s Office in September after town officials discovered a discrepancy between the amounts recorded as having been paid by utility customers and the amounts that were deposited into the town’s bank account.
The Sheriff’s Office contacted the Legislative Auditor’s Office, which investigated town finances from Jan. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2015.
The amount of missing cash totaled $26,730, but Folse, who was fired in September, admitted taking only between $4,000 and $4,500, according to an audit report released by the Legislative Auditor’s Office earlier this month.
Asked about the rest of the missing funds, Folse told auditors that former Mayor James Lavigne asked her to credit certain customers as having paid more than they actually had. She also said the cash drawer always was unlocked and accessible to other town employees.
Lavigne, who was defeated in his run for a seventh term, was indicted by a grand jury in 2014 and charged with four counts of malfeasance, two of unauthorized use of a movable and one of theft. None of the charges dealt with the utility fund.
Lavigne was sentenced to probation in September after a plea deal.
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