9/17/2019Mississippi: Top Cop, Clerk Busted Over Fake Speeding Tickets
Police chief and city clerk in Ecru, Mississippi admit they faked speeding tickets in order to embezzle cash.
The city clerk in Ecru, Mississippi, last month admitted she falsified records to steal federal grant funds that were meant to be used for running a traffic ticketing blitz. After receiving a local tip, the state auditor and the US Department of Transportation's inspector general confirmed that Gretchin Moody conspired with the speed trap town's police chief, Paul "Martin" Blaylock, to fake the number of citations issued in order to collect extra grant money that they then spent on themselves.
Between 2014 and 2016, Blaylock claimed he had issued 346 tickets on patrol when, in fact, he only issued 74. The clerk and chief filed bogus paperwork claiming reimbursement for overtime under the lucrative "mini wave" enforcement grant program administered by the state using money from the gasoline tax paid at the pump by drivers across the nation.
"The Ecru Police Department will utilize the grant funds to conduct not less than four high visibility OP enforcement checkpoints and/or saturation patrols and one educational event primarily during the national Click It or Ticket campaign and Child Passenger Safety week," the city claimed in its grant application. "The agency will utilize the funds for overtime and fringe to conduct the described program activities above and beyond the agency's daily activities and responsibilities."
As clerk, Moody's job was to collect the money from tickets and submit all the necessary paperwork to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Mississippi Office of Highway Safety to receive the federal funds. Instead of using the cash for the town of 1078 residents, she funneled $278,015 into her own pocket.
Moody also helped falsify records so that the police chief could help himself to $54,959 in extra cash. Moody purchased seventy rifles and handguns worth an estimated $75,710 to give to Blaylock as gifts for his cooperation in the scheme. The state attorney general seized the weapons so that the town could sell them at auction. Blaylock entered a guilty plea in April and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Moody accepted guilt in August and was sentenced to five years of house arrest and fined $193,157 on top of the $150,006 she had already paid in restitution.