Mayor Fillingame releases statement to WLOX on missing DoJ Funds, continues to wax nonsensical

Last night’s WLOX newscasts at 6 and 10 both featured the Bay St Louis DoJ Equitable Sharing fund disaster, first with the 6PM newscast showing an interview with Councilman Boudin where he disclosed the Council was filing claims on the bonds of the Mayor, the late Chief Denardo and the two City Clerks (Kolf and Smith) that had a hand in misspending the Federal grant, which was intended for use in law enforcement. Mayor Fillingame sent in a statement after the 6PM newscast that said:

“I think if it is their personal desire to pursue a claim against any employee or official against all of the professional advice that they have received, there will be great personal liability. The only losses that have been suffered by the taxpayers of Bay St. Louis has been the loss of money spent by the council pursuing claims that don’t exist. We have spent exuberant amounts of money on having this reviewed, audited and looked at legally. The council has gotten no advice from any of the auditors or agencies that have reviewed this, nor have they had any of the city’s legal counsel advise them that there is any claims against any person that has participated in the DOJ program. That money was put in the general fund account and spent by the counsel. None of the money was lost, it was spent in the process of serving the community. Before you have a claim you have to have a loss, and there has been no loss.”

Today Slabbed received an excerpt of a draft of the OSA performance review which debunks the Council going “against all the professional advice that they have received”:

OSA_2016PR_Excerpt

In fairness to the Mayor the final report linked above omitted the repayment language but to say the Council is going against all the professional advice they have received is inaccurate as the above clearly indicates the topic of how to handle a repayment was covered in the OSA performance review. Whether a loss has occurred, a topic Slabbed covered, is a legal question that will have to be sorted out.

Meantime I wonder if anyone else giggled hearing WLOX anchor Christina Garcia use the term “mingle” instead of the proper financial term “commingle” to describe what happened with the DoJ funds in the Bay?

32 thoughts on “Mayor Fillingame releases statement to WLOX on missing DoJ Funds, continues to wax nonsensical”

  1. The Mayor could have put this whole thing to rest by just simply presenting to the DOJ invoices amounting to $320,000 for Police Dept. expenses. According to the final DOJ report, “the agency “(city) could not produce that documentation,” and that is why the DOJ wants their money back!!
    I don’t know ” who” in the city ENJOYED the $300k, but it was not the PD working in their moldy building and needing more cruisers!!

  2. “… the mayor, the city clerk, or the comptroller, or some combination od these individuals …” does not include the late Police Chief Mike DeNardo.. who brought this mess to the council”s attention. Easy to attack a dead man?
    The money has been moved from the city’s general fund, or is about to be. That means taxpayers bear the burden, at least for now.
    Through at two audits, no auditor caught the comingling of funds. Do they have the required E&O insurance we could file a claim against?
    This has dragged on long enough. Time to fish or cut bait. Cudos to the city council for finally making a move, but do they not have any culpability here and bones we can call? Do they not approve every docket of claims???

    1. Rachel,
      At Tuesday evening’s meeting, Council voted unanimously to use the next ad valorem check from Jimmie Ladner, Tax Collector, to satisfy the Department of Justice demand for their misappropriated grant funds that were supposed to be for the exclusive use of Police Department needs. This motion was made when Council exited Executive Session. The ad valorem check will be deposited into the General Fund, and then the amount needed for DOJ will be transferred to them.
      That motion passed unanimously.
      The next motion was to work in co-operation with the State Auditor to establish and document the loss to the city, and revoke the bonds of the responsible parties in order to return the funds back to the taxpayers’ General Operating Fund. That motion passed unanimously.
      The DOJ grant funds were co-mingled into the General Operating Fund, according to the State Auditor, and Council feels that is the account that should pay the money back. The DOJ funds were never co-mingled into the city’s Reserve Fund.
      As far as Council’s responsibility, I feel certain that had the Council known the Department of Justice Funds had been co-mingled into the General Operating Fund, they would have never approved one dollar of expenditures from the dockets presented to them subsequent to September 30, 2011, the date the State Auditor determined the money was unrestricted and co-mingled.
      Additionally, if it were illegal for the Council to approve those dockets, it surely must have been illegal for the Mayor and City Clerk to present them for approval and payment. After all, it was only the Mayor and Clerk who knew the DOJ funds were being used to pay those dockets. They never sought authorization from Council to move the funds. But, they couldn’t seek authorization to do something illegal, could they?

  3. I would posit that the people in the Bay should be grateful the DoJ choose to work with the City Council on not completely losing the funds because in other situations I’ve seen the DoJ take the attitude that it was the locals that put the offending miscreants in office thus the locals can wollow in the mess they made at the voting booth.

    As far as the City’s audit firm goes auditor responsibilities over a small, nonmajor federal grant are very limited. Plus I bet they have a letter in their files signed by Fillingame and likely City Clerk Kolf where they swore they were abiding by all grant terms amd conditions. That is a long winded way of saying a malpractice suit is far from a sure thing here, especially if the auditee lied and mislead the auditors.

    The best opportunity for the voters to make things right comes in May and that includes not electing the lackies Fillingame has conned into qualifying for the Council. A good way to insure a crooked council is to elect people with a known history of double dealing such as the MIA Ward 2 Councilwoman whose real estate dealings with her hubby and her nonprofit are an open secret or a current ward 4 Candidiate that has first hand experience with the criminal justice system in his past.

  4. Fact:
    Apparently
    something improper has been done with DOJ funds, otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here discussing it.

    With that if this administration still wants to claim nothing improper was done than no payback should be made & the mayor
    has the right to Veto the motion to pay the DOJ funds back.

    1. If the money was spent on anything not specified, it was “improper,” but improper does not necessarily mean “illegal” or even sketchy (but it might).

      For example, if you give your child $25 to buy school supplies that they need, but they use it to buy food for poor, hungry classmates, is it wrong? It is “improper” because the net effect is that YOU actually did the purchasing, and you might well have done so anyway if you had known, but the fact remains that you must now either give them another $25 or buy the $25 worth of supplies yourself. Should they be punished for what is clearly a decent motive? No, but you should explain to them the proper way to go about such things. Now, on the other hand, if they had blown the $25 on a movie and junk food, punishment would be in order.

      The important question here is, “what exactly was the money spent on?” If it was spent on necessary things for the benefit of the citizens, then, yep, the citizens should replace it. If it was spent on “junk food and movies,” those that spent it ought to be punished (and all reasonable attempts made to recover the money from them). It seems to me that finding out _specifically_ where the money went is the singularly important first step. If those that spent it cannot show specifically where it was spent, and because they are responsible for being able to specifically show that, they are on the hook for it. There isn’t much to argue about, it is plain, simple and straightforward.

      1. The bigger problem for the mayor are the false affidavits where he swore to the DOJ that the money was being spent and maintained according to the law. The DOJ may not be as forgiving of lying and dishonesty as his supporters are.

        1. The issue in such a case would be both knowledge (actual or constructive) and intent. If the person signing the affidavit didn’t know the money was being spent improperly and/or had no “criminal” intent, a prosecutor would have to think twice about pursuing the matter. I am not suggesting that either is (or is not) the case in this particular situation because I have no information as to what anyone’s knowledge or intent was with this money. but there is a big difference between MISfeasance and MALfeasance, especially with government programs with all sorts of rules and regs that are far from “common-sense.” For example, it would not surprise me to learn that this program would allowed the city to buy an absolutely unnecessary fleet of armor-plated vehicles but would strictly prohibit buying the nightshift cops a bucket of KFC and a pie as a morale-booster.

          Here’s a real-world example: the city (the mayor or whomever) spends many thousands buying every member of the force a top-of-the-line bullet-proof vest with some of the money (allowable and a “common-sense” expenditure) and requires they be worn (reasonable). The officers complain of the heat-related discomfort (understandable, since we’re talking about the MS coast), so the city starts buying cases of water and sports drinks, along with an ice machine and small Yeti coolers and tumblers with the force logo on them, for on-duty use only (a no-no, but not against “common sense”). Nature takes its course, and extras wind up being bought for all sorts of “friends of the force” (OK, now they ought to know better, but if they really are legit supporters of the force…). On the other hand, buying a fleet of Corvettes (or whatever happens to be the middle-aged crazy car of choice in Bay St. Louis), allegedly for “undercover operations” and allowing them to be driven by all sorts of folks when Crockett and Tubbs aren’t using them is beyond what anyone with common sense would understand as permissible. And what about this situation: some procurement person with the city mistakenly uses general funds to buy the vests rather than the DOJ funds, then, the city attempts to “balance the books” by using an equal amount of DOJ funds to buy a bulldozer the city unquestionably needs. From a purely “cash” standpoint, nothing wrong happened, but from an accounting and auditing standpoint, you’ve got a problem.

          Again, I have no idea what happened, but I’ll say it again: the first and singular item of importance is, “where did the money go?” Once that is determined, who did what and what they knew becomes material. Fillingame might be as crooked as can be, with both knowledge and intent, but the mere fact that he authorized expenditures not allowed under a particular FEDERAL program doesn’t mean much.

          That said, if I may, allow me to correct your statement: “The DOJ ‘may not be’ as forgiving of lying and dishonesty as his supporters are.” It should read, “The DOJ WILL NOT BE be forgiving of lying and dishonesty [PERIOD FULL STOP]” because demonstrably lying to a Federal agent in the course of an investigation is a crime. “Forgive” will never enter the minds of the investigators or prosecutors in such a case. I would also add that misprision of a felony (generally, having actual knowledge – not just suspicion, however strong or well-founded – of a felony and not reporting it) is also a crime and just ask Zack Scruggs, there will be no sense of humor about that, either.

          In closing, I’d suggest the same to the Bay St. Louis folks as I did to those involved in the myriad Jackson County stuff – if you have knowledge of anything, you will be much better off getting out in front of it sooner rather than too late(r). Once a case is made, you will be just another co-defendant/conspirator to leverage against the real target(s).

          1. Removing the DOJ money from it’s dedicated account and co-mingling it with the general fund, and hiding it from the city counsel and DOJ (through false affidavits) is pretty far from making an honest mistake in procurring police gear. If this is so hard to figure out, how do the tens of thousands of other jurisdictions manage to do it correctly.
            But, I could be wrong. Maybe, the “We’re too stupid to do it correctly” defense will work. Apparently it has worked for Hillary. Time will tell.

            1. Being “too stupid to do it correctly” is a problem to be solved by voters, not federal investigators and prosecutors. Until the expenditures are traced, everything else is conjecture.

              1. I have a feeling, that if any of this money was actually lawfully spent, we would have heard about it by now. And, yes perjury is a matter for federal investigators and prosecutors. Ask Walter Nixon.

      2. When you execute affidavits that the money is secured and being appropriately managed with the rules and consequences on the affidavits it is more than merely being benevolent!

  5. Fact:
    I read the follow up the mayor,Lucifer, did on wlox about the DOJ findings.
    What he is doing is threatening / blackmailing this council with a suit if they pursue the bond of the responsible parties that misspent / misused the DOJ Funds!!!!!

    Lucifer states the council spent the money by approving dockets … the money was actually spent when he and his staff issued purchase orders/ordered items and committed the city to pay for it without EVER informing the Council that the DOJ money was mingled in the”pooled account” and was being used to pay for routine needs

    He & his administration signed checks knowing they were using DOJ money.

  6. Fact:
    The above comments I have posted are not my thoughts But I must say I agree with them 100%!!!!

    These are some of the comments I have heard made by a few of the councilman at the meetings & discussing this topic with them & no they do not care if I share this information.
    Thanks

    1. This or that opinion, whatever the source, isn’t really relevant. This is a straightforward situation, as I attempted to outline above. If the money was spent “improperly,” but on “proper” items, then the citizens should have to pay because they would have had to pay anyway. If it was spent “improperly” on “improper” things, those that spent it are on the hook for it (collecting it from them is another matter) and they should be punished.

      Where opinion does come into play is that regardless of motive or responsibility, these are not children sent to buy school supplies, these are adults who willingly sought out the responsibility for the proper spending of all incoming funds. They failed in that responsibility and should be held to a full explanation for that failure. That explanation should be a key factor for voters in their determination as to whether those who failed in their responsibilities are allowed to continue to have such responsibilities.

      1. Nunya Business,
        Tell me why the citizens should have to pay for a misappropriation that was concealed from their elected representatives on the Council, who. by law hzvd authority over city finances?
        Thd State Auditof does not agred with you!

        1. If the money was spent on a “civic necessity” (such as garbage collection or water supply) that the city didn’t have the money to cover, it was inappropriate to use earmarked/restricted use DOJ funds to cover those costs rather than raising taxes to cover them, but using those funds doesn’t make such an expense any less of a necessity. I’m not suggesting that is the case here – again, I don’t know. I’m simply saying that _IF_ the money was used on things not allowed by the program, but were proper and necessary expenditures for the city, the taxpayers would have had to cover such expenses anyway, so reimbursing the program would be a wash from the taxpayers’ standpoint.

            1. I’ve not commented a lot on this, but Nunya Bidness and I appear to be on the same page when it comes to the expenditure of the DOJ funds.

              IF (and, as far as I’m concerned this is still an open question,) the people involved with diverting the formerly sequestered DOJ Equitable Sharing funds into the BSL general fund (and anyone else having this knowledge) did not personally benefit from the expenditure of these diverted funds, then this issue is probably not going to be a matter for the criminal courts.

              There is enough smoke on this and other BSL financial and governance topics which may or may not be related (alleged payroll problems, alleged false affidavits concerning certain expenditures, certain past claims about the BSL financial positions which turn out to be ummm lets say “lacking total truthiness”, the necessity to re-inflate the depleted BSL financial coffers with a loan allegedly obtained without proper statutory authority, arguably operating a friends and family employment agency) to make me wonder whether or not there was improper personal benefit obtained from the BSL city resources.

              In my unofficial and non-expert opinion, there may be some of the indicia of a either a culture of perpetual bungling or a culture of corruption present.

              1. I suggest you reacquaint yourself with the perjury statutes. Les gets it. Why do you think he is claiming that someone forged his signature on the DOJ declarations?

              2. He understands completely he has just never had repercussions his whole life. He has out lived a lot of people he has screwed. The Caruso Lady went to the grave this weekend knowing he stiffed her on the rent on his video store!

              3. What you think the statute says is one thing, and what a prosecutor does is another. This assumes you know which statute(s) would apply.

                You can put this all in your pipe, and then either light it on fire or stick it wherever you want. Like they say, opinions are like assholes and some of them stink.

                One more thing about this: I don’t usually spend time attempting to mediate the internet pissing matches of others unless I think they are trolling or otherwise violating the internet norms.

                Wondering if, which is essentially the same as insinuating that, Nunya Bidness might be carrying water for Les crosses that line IMO.

                The timing of your comments says a lot.

                I can save another worthless question and answer, as far as I know I’m not related to either Les or Nunya either. But hey, it’s the internet, so I might be whoever you can imagine.

              4. My comment at 1:53 pm was in response to the recent comments posted by Observer on this and other threads at Slabbed. If you don’t post as Observer, then I’m not talking at you.

            2. Not only am I not related to Les, I cannot recall that I’ve ever even seen a picture of him. All I know is what I have read and nothing I’ve read has stated where any funds, DOJ or city, were spent. What I have seen is speculation and accusations (however well-founded that may be) and there are various laws of at least two sets of code, Mississippi and federal, that could be in play, but under either one stupidity is not a chargeable offense.

              I would agree that something “odd” was and is going on in Bay St. Louis, but until all of the funds are traced, or at least some are traced such as to demonstrate criminality rather than stupidity (ala MALfeasance versus MISfeasance) and a case put together, no responsible prosecutor is going to tee this thing up even if an overly-accommodating judge would allow them to do so. Moreover, there may be civil recourse, such as the various bonds or even personal assets, but no criminal recourse. I would not assume that the DOJ working with the city means it has dropped the matter and it could mean it generally knows what went down and is now putting its case together. As I said before, if it does know something criminal occurred, anyone who it can prove lied to its agents (or had knowledge of a felony and failed to report it) will regret it.

              That said, the voters are an entirely different matter – both stupidity and well-founded suspicion are perfectly valid reasons to oppose a candidate and/or vote them out.

              1. Some people don’t just tolerate corruption. They demand it. I don’t even tolerate corruption, or those who do, and I’m not ever going to apoligize for that. Sorry, but that’s how a city gets in the mess that the Bay is in. There were crimes committed here. Not honest mistakes. And, that is not a layman’s opinion. The rest of the coast doesn’t call this place Hancock Parish, for no good reason.

  7. Nunya,
    Some good points
    Fact:
    NO One can tell you what it was spent on.
    Could have been payroll , tractors , toilet paper , unqualified friends in High Places, attorney fees for putting lawsuits against the city off , or hundreds of other items.
    Not a dime was spent for what it is intended for.
    Therefore Breaking State & Federal Laws!!!!
    BUT the bottom line is they Could Not use it on any of this!!
    Signed Affidavits stating , Penalty by Perjury, that they read & understand the rules & the amount shown is accurate was sent to the DOJ ea. Year & signed by the mayor!!!!!
    Only the Chief could move this money!!!
    How many signed False Affidavits does it take to be illegal??? Like father like daughter!!! Another Story.
    DOJ funds is just a small sampling of misspent funds!!
    Misspent utility funds, garbage payments are even worse. Another time on that!!!
    Not once has Lucifer ever stood up & accepted responsibility for any of his actions.
    Always someone else’s fault.
    Remember 4 years ago , Election Time ??
    How he flat out lied to the citizens about the city is in the best shape its ever been in.
    His opponents didn’t know what they were talking about’!
    Had to borrow 1/2 million dollars 3 months later to pay bills ,( garbage bills & more ).
    Illegal to spend utility money on general bills. Breaking State laws. Again!!!
    Lucifer & his followers are good. Very good!!!

  8. Fact:
    $241,000 must be paid back to the reserve account , borrowed this to make it through the first quarter.
    DONE!!!!

    $83,000 must be paid back to the utility account from the General account . This money is currently being used in the General account.
    Illegal!!!!!

    $299,9–must be paid back to the DOJ account from the General account.
    For improper spending!!!!

    So now they must add around $380,000 of expenses to the 16/17budget!!!
    Both Illegal spending!!!!!!
    So where do they get this money from to balathr budget???
    Will be interesting!!!
    Maybe Columber the auditor can show them where it is???

    Both will be paid back with the next check the city receives from the tax collector later this month. First big check last month already gone , now the second big check will be gone & only one more big check to come. Broke by May once again.

    Ever heard this before???

  9. Les’s last re-election declarations got him where he is today. He said the city had never been in better financial situation refuting the other candidates saying we were in bad shape. Yep, Bobby, Doug and Windy Wendy agreed with Les and rolled their sleeves up to raise taxes and blame the economy for the woes that surfaced immediately. $13 sur charge to pay unfunded extended debt that went unaccounted for for months….It wasn’t until they couldn’t run from the law that they succumbed to the tax payers pain. Meeting after meeting they tried to hide facts and accept bull shit from Les.

    What will Les’s campaign be this time. ” For years I screwed people on my hare brained ideas in the private sector now I can screw 10,000 people at a time!” Renember he said if there is any money left we are collecting too many taxes! Hahaha he is kind of funny if you think about it. Saturday Night Live Material! Lil Les Daddy Said has to laugh too because she has been laying on the leg of the tax payer since daddy got in office. The Deplorable Duo!

  10. Nunya Bidness I wish you had been reading slabbed for several years now. You would then understand the frustration and lies from Les we have had to deal with. Coming in at half time does not give you the full perspective of his incompetence as the Mayor.
    He spent money he did not have not only from Police Dept. but also from the money collected from the water bill to pay to the Waste Water Authority in excess of 400K and borrowed money to pay that back then assessed us homeowners 13.00 month to pay that back and didn’t put the 13$ in a special account to pay back the pay back. So you tell me what is wrong with this picture and leadership.
    He needs to learn to control the budget and spend within his appropriated money. Not keep robbing Peter to pay Paul. That is his problem. Ignorance is NO defense here. He had full calculated knowledge of everything he and the clerks were doing. Pointing fingers at a dead person is truly beneath any dignity of an honest person or denying knowledge of the situations. He had Rafferty help him out of his hole each time, but DR is gone now and all kinds of things are coming to light down at City Hall…

    1. From what you are saying, the extent of his “shortcomings” are incompetent management, not criminal conduct and if so, there would be nothing to prosecute. Again, under such circumstances the remedy is to vote him out, not hope for a criminal prosecution that, taking what you say as absolutely correct and accurate, would never take place.

      From what you describe, the taxes collected simply did not cover the necessary expenses of the city. From what has been said in other posts, it seems that he and other elected officials kept taxes artificially low to help with re-election and then, had to engage in juggling to make ends meet. But a competent mayor/council would have raised the taxes sufficient to cover those expenses, so as I said, the taxpayers having to pay NOW what they should have paid over the last X years causes them no real damage. In fact, delaying the inevitable means the taxpayers actually got some benefit in the extra time-value of the money.

      It seems pretty clear that there are a fair number of folks who think Fillingame and others are incompetent or worse. Those of you who feel that way would be much better served by getting together, organizing, gathering like-minded folks to your cause and attempting to vote them out rather than all merely complaining (ineffectually) separately. If there was any criminal activity to be prosecuted, it can and would be prosecuted whether he or they are in office or not.

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