State Auditor Findings Lead to Arrest of Deputy Clerk
Hits Close to Home in Magnolia
In the past week former Natchez City Clerk Servia Fortenberry and deputy clerk Sevetrius Dillon were arrested Monday morning by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office after being indicted for embezzlement of City of Natchez funds.
Both Fortenberry and Dillon are accused of wiring payments to themselves from a city account without approval,” according to a statement from state Auditor Shad White. “The pair are also accused of claiming to work for the City of Natchez at the same time they were working as consultants for a town on the opposite side of the state.” City leaders in Natchez filed a complaint with the Auditor’s office when these alleged schemes were discovered. According to the “Nat-chez Democrat”, the state auditor was notified in November 2021 and they initiated their investigation.
So you are probably asking yourself how does this affect the citizens of Magnolia?
Sevetrius Dillon also served as a Deputy Clerk for the City of Magnolia. During the March Magnolia City Board meeting, it was announced that Sevetrius Dillon had tendered her resignation in February this year citing health reasons. Following her resignation and unaware to the public, Sevetrius Dillon was rehired as a consultant at a rate of $40/hour. In my conversation with Mayor Witherspoon, she state that Ms. Dillon was hired by the city in January 2022 after she resigned as the deputy clerk for Natchez in November 2021. Mayor Witherspoon stated that Ms. Dillon filled a void in experience for the city’s accounting system and at no time had access or authority to the city’s funds or bank accounts.
City Editor’s Note: When I heard this story break I remembered the name Sevetrius Dillon and so I went back through my City Board notes and on the March 2022 agenda was the action to “accept the resignation of Sevetrius Dillon” who was the deputy city clerk at the time. I remember very little discussion about the reason for Ms. Dillon’s resignation and no discussion about a follow-up hire as a consultant at the $40/hour rate. How many city employees are making $40/hr (a rate of over $83K/year?)
So there are a number of questions here. Who was monitoring Ms. Dillon’s contract? How many hours did we pay Sevetrius Dillon a week for “consulting”? When was Ms. Dillon’s consulting contract terminated? And, what did Ms. Dillon do (or the contract state she was to do) from a remote location for that pay?
I expect more to come from this investigation as the State Auditor’s office unravels the fraud of two Mississippi cities! We still don’t know the name of the “other town on the opposite side of the state.” We welcome the full results of the investigation.