2 former Natchez employees indicted on embezzlement charges

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — Two former Natchez city employees were arrested Monday after being indicted on embezzlement charges, the Mississippi auditor’s office said.

Former city clerk Servia Fortenberry and former deputy clerk Sevetrius Dillon are accused of wiring payments from a city account to themselves without approval, Auditor Shad White said in a news release.

The women are accused of claiming to work for Natchez city government at the same time they were working as consultants for a town on the opposite side of the state. Natchez officials filed a complaint at the auditor’s office.

During the arrests Monday, Fortenberry was served with a $14,836 demand letter and Dillon was served an $8,030 demand letter. Both demands include interest and investigative expenses.

The Natchez Democrat reported that Fortenberry, 52, and Dillon, 33, were not immediately available for comment Monday.

The sheriff’s department told The Associated Press it did not have records to show whether either woman is represented by an attorney, and the Natchez Police Department did not immediately respond to AP’s request for that information.

Fortenberry announced in October that she planned to resign, and her last day was scheduled to be Nov. 15.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson told the newspaper in November that a questionable transfer of city funds into an external account had taken place Nov. 12. Gibson said he reported the matter to the auditor the next day.

While Gibson did not name any person as being involved with the questionable transfer of funds, Fortenberry contacted The Natchez Democrat at that time and said the money in question was salary, vacation time and compensation time she paid herself while doing payroll.

“All of the transfers are documented,” Fortenberry said. “They went through my regular log in. Everything is in the clerk’s office. ... I’ve been doing this job for 24 years. I have eight other mayors that will vouch for this job that I do. This was payroll.”

At the time of her resignation, Gibson and Natchez aldermen praised her work. Fortenberry and her team completed three past-due audits in a single year and are credited with cleaning up what was an accounting department in disarray.