Bay St Louis DoJ Fund Disaster Continues to reverberate across the media

Yesterday we highlighted the WLOX coverage of the Fillingame Administration misappropriating and then spending the DoJ Equitable Sharing Grant on expenses other than for law enforcement. Today we have a two pack from the Sea Coast Echo and the Sun Herald as Hizzoner continues to wax nonsensical. First up is Cassandra Favre’s report for the Echo:

Favre said when city officials met with DOJ representatives in Jackson, everyone in that meeting “felt like that we had to repay this money and we wouldn’t get to spend it in Bay St. Louis, that they would take the money back.”

Favre said Falgout made a presentation to DOJ representatives about the “deplorable” condition of the Bay St. Louis Police Department building.
“They seemed to buy into it,” Favre said. “They went back to Washington with that information, that we would spend the money on the building and other things for the police department if we put the money back and they allowed us to keep it. Evidently, they came back in January, when we had that meeting a week or so ago and said we would be able to keep the money here and spend it on the police department.”

Missing in Cassandra’s story are any quotes from Mayor Fillingame, who left the Council meeting shortly after the DoJ report was read into the record and approved by the Council.

Meantime Wes Muller hit the ball out of the park with his story on the same topic, which built upon some dynamite journalism he did back when this story first broke:

Bay City Council takes control of drug-forfeiture money with federal oversight ~ Wes Muller

In its investigation, the Sun Herald obtained records from the DOJ, including an affidavit signed by Mayor Les Fillingame, certifying the city had accumulated $298,108 in forfeitures as of Sept. 30, 2014. As the council had not approved any purchases with the DOJ money since 2011, the balance of the general operating account should never have dipped below that amount.

But during an August 2015 meeting, council members noticed the general operating account had a cash balance of only $80,000. The council called for an inquiry by state and federal authorities.

The last paragraph quoted above contains the salient fact that completely debunks the Fillingame Administration’s favorite meme that the money was there the entire time as it clearly wasn’t but it is also clear that the Mayor is as challenged by simple math as he is managing the City’s budget. A numbers person he isn’t folks.

Here is a sampling of reaction in social media, which is quite enlightening:

Why do you people keep putting the same criminals back in public office~ James McDonald

Bay St. Louis, MS mis-spent about $300,000 drug forfeiture money. That’s a nice way of saying “they stole it” (and some think MS doesn’t need asset forfeiture reform!). ~ Mississippi for Liberty Facebook Group

this is a bunch of bull! i was at that meeting and the funds are there but in the general fund, we don’t pay them back we spend them on the PD with restrictions by the DOJ….very misleading…. ~ BSL Ward 4 Councilman Candidate Larry Smith, responding to the WLOX story on the DoJ report.

Folks, it looks like the Ward Four candidate is as math challenged as his friend Hizzoner. The lesson here in this election season is that when it comes to the candidates for office Cavet Emptor. Luckily for the public, Lana Noonan of the Hancock County Alliance for Good GovernemntTM has disclosed to Slabbed that as per usual in this local election season, the Alliance will be hosting at least one Candidate forum. Maybe Smith can explain then how $80,000 is greater than $300,000.

Stay tuned.

16 thoughts on “Bay St Louis DoJ Fund Disaster Continues to reverberate across the media”

  1. That lying SOB is going to be elected again. No one is running against him and the sheriff is moving at half the speed of a turtle. I’m surprised a group of disgruntled taxpayers haven’t drug him out of city hall and stung him up on the flagpole out front.

    1. I am not an auditor, but I have heard that subsequent to the date the State Auditor pinpointed the funds were unrestricted, going forward there were some 800 violations. I would guess that each check issued after that date totally up to $320,000 could possibly be an expenditure of the DOJ funds?
      An examination of the claim dockets from September 30, 2011, forward may give some idea as to where the money went.
      But, let’s not lose sight of the real issue–where the money did NOT go, and that was to the Police Dept. as required by the Grant. That is much more important. If Mayor Fillingame and his clerks could have produced invoices amounting to $320,000 in Police expenditures, we would not be having this conversation. But, according to the DOJ Report, the agency (city) was not able to produce documentation to that effect. And there were a lot of Police Dept. needs that are now coming to an unpleasant head. So, according to the DOJ, their determination that the city has to pay up for this misappropriation, is all about where the money did NOT go.
      That is Mayor Fillingame’s dilemma!!!

      1. Exactly. You know this mold and deterioration of the PD started a long time ago, for example. That is the kind of things this fund was designed for. Not as a mayoral slush fund.

        1. Actually, I think this type of use of equitable sharing funds is not generally allowed.

          See the DOJ’s (warning 63 page pdf!) Guide to Equitable Sharing Program for State and Local Law Enforcement

          Refer to the table of contents and have at it.

          The basics are as follows (from pages 24 and 25):

          V. What Are the Uses of Equitably Shared Property?
          Asset forfeiture is a powerful tool that provides valuable resources to state and local law enforcement that may not have otherwise been available. Equitably shared funds must be used in accordance with this Guide for law enforcement purposes that directly supplement the appropriated resources of the recipient law enforcement agency. Sharing will be withheld from any state or local law enforcement agency where the governing body, state or local law, regulation, or policy requires or directs 1) specific expenditures of shared funds, 2) the transfer of federal equitable sharing funds to non-law enforcement agencies, or 3) expenditures for non-law enforcement purposes.

          To avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest, any person or members of his or her immediate family who was involved in an investigation which led to the forfeiture of property to be sold is prohibited from purchasing, either directly or indirectly, that forfeited property.

          A. General guidance on Supplantation and Budgeting
          1. Supplantation—Shared funds must be used to increase or supplement the resources of the receiving state or local law enforcement agency or any other ultimate recipient agency. Shared funds shall not be used to replace or supplant the appropriated resources of the recipient. The recipient agency must benefit directly from the sharing. In determining whether supplantation has occurred, the Department of Justice will examine the law enforcement agency’s budget as a whole and allow agencies to use equitable sharing funds for any permissible purpose as long as shared funds increase the entire law enforcement budget. The Department of
          Justice may terminate sharing with law enforcement agencies that are not permitted
          by their governing body to benefit directly from equitable sharing.

          Example of Improper Supplantation: A police department receives $100,000 in
          federal sharing money only to have its budget cut $100,000 by the city council. In this instance, the police department has received no direct benefit from equitable sharing whatsoever. Rather, the city as a whole has received the benefit of the sharing.”

          AND

          ” B. Use of shared funds
          Except as noted in this Guide, equitably shared funds shall be used by law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes only. The uses outlined below are examples of permissible and impermissible expenditures. If an agency is unsure whether a proposed expenditure is permissible, it should email [email protected].
          Shared funds may be used for any permissible agency expenditure and may be used by both sworn and non-sworn law enforcement personnel, except as noted in salaries. The fact that shared property was forfeited by a particular unit or as a result of a particular federal violation does not limit its use to purchases only for that unit or to further investigations only for that particular federal violation. If an agency wishes to support a multi-agency expenditure, such as a new payroll system or city municipal building, with a non-law enforcement agency, the law enforcement agency’s costs based on its use may be calculated on a pro-rata basis.”

          The use of the DOJ funds to repair mold and other deterioration damages in the Police Department is exactly the type of expenditure which appears to be specifically prohibited. The maintenance of this building (and the repairs likely necessitated in part by the FAILURE OF BSL TO PROPERLY MAINTAIN THE BUILDING) is the city’s responsibility.

          1. Maintenance! That is a joke! Just look at the city property behind city hall. Looks like a junk yard with damaged fencing etc easily cleaned up and repaired…..Road caving in by the High School and Casino…..Doesn’t have time because he is chasing his adversaries and enemies around while with less effort he could have the yard could be cleaned up! Incompetency runs deep!

  2. The election is not that far away. Start your ground work now and get the word out of his incompetence running a city and debt he has incurred since being in office. Go down the list with misappropriation, everything. Start sending out messages to the people of BSL and let them know. Put ads in Sea Coast Echo, start a PAC against Les, FB is great. I’ll contribute. Trump had his campaign on FB and Twitter and won, so lets do the same against Les….
    Is it true Mike Favre or Lisa Cowand is running for Mayor? Lisa should have been elected before. Then we would not be in this mess.
    Any word for Ward 2. Since the current member is MIA for what almost a year now? Still getting a salary and on the city Health insurance. What a mess this city is in..

  3. Yes he will get re-elected. The vast majority of the registered voters in Bay St. Louis don’t vote. The ones that do are on the drunken trolley car ridding the tax payers coat tails. So I’d say the same thing I keep saying quit your belly aching on go vote, encourage your neighbors and friends to vote and finally, put some effort into all those lies and dollars being waster and actively campaign against this thug mayor and his inner circle of henchmen. We see the same thing here in Pascagoula and Moss Point. And it happens over and over in Ocean Springs. I just can’t see the reasoning and effort that people put into online comments but slip the cliff when it comes time to backbone up and cast a vote.

  4. With all the fireworks going off between the POTUS and MOT-BSL, few folks are watvhing the real action. Nice “shock events” deflections, whatever.
    There was one line in BSL Amended Agenda of 2/7/2017, 8B which apparently awarded a private co to do all the trimming, mowing etc for the city. ow I hear rumors that the Building Dept is also run by a private cituzen, not a public servant. And he may not be qualified. I don’t know, just heard from several sources.
    NOW, they want to privatize our library.
    OH, NO. OH HELL NO. It may seem a small thing to you, but itis soooo huge, it blocks the sun.
    Privatization is a spreading virus.

    If corporations run depts in BSL, well, a for instance: private co takes over maintenance of the district’s school buses, who do they answer to, who hires/fires? $500 towards an aging tire or the bottom line?
    They run the PD. Do our guys get the $1000 flak jacket or the $700 one.
    Each privatization takes a little more freedom from us, our kids, our officers, our books…..it seems harmless. You’re thinking I’m over the line. 0But like Katrina’s surge that battered over and over, this erodes small towns civil rights, our say in our town. Do NOT let them get a foot in the door here. Aren’t we tired of everyone else telling us what to do?
    Come to the meeting, no date yet but come, speak up. Silence is giving in. AND WE DON’T GIVE IN!

  5. Well, if any registered voter in BSL supports Les again, and he wins, they deserve the incompetence and everything that goes along with it. He ultimately will have to raise taxes if he continues on the financial train wreck he is on, then, how would you feel about that. You have to pay more to live in BSL because you supported Les. I sure wouldn’t think it was worth it.
    Change is good… I’m supporting anyone that runs against Les.

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