Aberdeen mayor arrested in embezzlement case

November 2, 2019 GMT

ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) — The first-term mayor of Aberdeen has been arrested in an embezzlement case stemming from city-funded business trips, the State Auditor’s Office said, but the mayor denies all the charges and said all the charges were approved.

Logan Reeves with the State Auditor’s Office said agents arrested Mayor Maurice Howard on Wednesday night on five counts of embezzlement, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

According to a news release, Howard is accused of taking city funds meant to pay for travel expenses for city business. Howard allegedly was paid in advance for attending meetings or conferences but then didn’t attend the meetings.

The release said Howard allegedly stole nearly $3,500 from Aberdeen taxpayers. The auditor’s office is demanding Howard pay $11,649.34, which includes interest and investigation costs.

“Politicians should not lie to the voters about working on their behalf when they are not. And they certainly should not lie in order to financially benefit at the same time,” Auditor Shad White said in the release. “This is a breach of the trust that the voters put in our elected officials, and the mayor must be held accountable.”

Howard vehemently denied the charges in an interview with WCBI that the allegations are false. He said he took the trips and that he didn’t steal any money. Howard said he turned in receipts and accused some members of the board of alderman of trying to slander him.

“All of these charges have been approved by the board of aldermen, therefore there is no embezzlement,” said Howard. “The mayor can’t touch one penny unless the board approves it. ...I use that money to travel with, I use that money for gas, I use the money for mileage on my vehicle, the wear and tear, and I also use the money for my per diem.”

Howard was released on $10,000 bond. He is slated to appear in court in December. It was unknown if he’s represented by an attorney.