Three more ‘targets’ in Lee schools probe

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Three more “targets” in the Lee County School District are under investigation, the State Auditor’s Office confirms.
“We have a total of four targets in this current investigation,” auditor spokeswoman Lisa Shoemaker told the Daily Journal on Wednesday, one day after the school district’s longtime business manager, Randy Thweatt, was arrested on embezzlement charges.
Details about who is under investigation and why were not available.
“We cannot comment … because they are ongoing,” she said of the investigation.
Thweatt, 50, is accused of converting a district-owned pickup truck’s title to his own name and having district employees install a district-owned air conditioning unit at a mobile home he owned in Starkville.
No information was public yet if Thweatt’s case was brought to a grand jury, which considers whether the state has sufficient evidence to bring a formal criminal charge, called an indictment.
But Lee County’s circuit court will have arraignment day Tuesday for anyone served with notice that they have been indicted.
Defendants are read the charges against them and bonds are set by a judge during arraignment hearings.
Thweatt was released from Lee County jail custody on $10,000 bond. He was placed on paid administrative leave.
Tuesday, State Auditor Stacey Pickering said his office is not investigating the Tupelo Public School District, which is separate from the county district.
Shoemaker said four other Mississippi school district embezzlement cases are under investigation by the auditor’s office – one in Alcorn County and three in Clay County.
Like the Lee County cases, no details were provided.
Last October, Noxubee County’s school superintendent, Roger Liddell, was recalled by the governor after Liddell was indicted on embezzlements alleged to have occurred while he was principal at Simmons High School in Hollandale.
He is accused of taking cameras, camcorders, desktop and laptop computers, DVD/CD players, televisions and other equipment valued at $73,032.
Liddell awaits trial in Washington County.
In addition, Newton City Superintendent of Education Virginia Young recently paid an exception taken against her for giving bonuses.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com