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Former CFO of Mississippi city sentenced for embezzlement

February 22, 2021 GMT

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — The former chief financial officer of a Mississippi city has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzlement — the maximum sentence for that crime.

The Commercial Dispatch reported that Milton Rawle, 49, entered the guilty plea Monday in Lowndes County Circuit Court.

Rawle worked for the city of Columbus from 2013 to 2019. Investigators said he moved $288,893 from city accounts to his personal accounts between December 2016 and December 2018.

The maximum sentence for embezzlement of more than $25,000 is 20 years in prison. Circuit Judge Lee Coleman said he “couldn’t imagine” imposing less than the maximum, given the amount of public money Rawle admitted to taking. Because embezzlement is a nonviolent offense, Rawle will be eligible for parole consideration after five years.

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Coleman also directed Rawle to pay $108,388 in restitution. The rest of the money has been paid in surety bonds.

Rawle resigned in February 2019 after a 16-day suspension for failing to alert officials about the city’s deficit until November 2018. The city operated at a deficit exceeding $800,000 in both Fiscal Year 2017 and FY 2018, plunging its general fund balance to $2.3 million.

After Rawle’s resignation, certified public accountant Wanda Holley found discrepancies in the city’s FY 2018 audit report and turned the case over to the State Auditor’s Office for investigation.