- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The former adjutant of an American Legion Post 1776 in Cleveland has agreed to repay $370,000 in post money that he had converted to his own use.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says the discrepancy in the post’s books was found by his Charities Division. A consent decree was agreed to by all parties earlier this month.

The investigation cited Morgan Shands and his wife. Shands works as a political consultant and was campaign manager for Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes in 2013. Shands‘ wife is a nurse. She is not named in the consent agreement.

The Charities Division has ruled that none of the money allegedly used by Shands and his wife was used for the post’s charitable mission.

The post has been fined $17,000 for its lack of oversight in the use of the money.

Shands will pay $370,116 back to the post’s charity fund over the next 10 years. He was required to make a $5,000 initial payment. He has to submit an audited financial statement to the secretary of state’s office each year for the next three years.

Specifically, Hosemann’s office found:

- Shands used $198,480 in charity funds designated for the Saint Ambrose Leadership College project “for his personal benefit” from 2008-2012.

- Shands used $56,966 in post funds for his personal use from 2011-2012.

- Shands used $6,500 in charity funds for the St. Anthony’s program for his personal use from 2010-2012.

- Shands‘ wife was paid $104,893 from 2009 to 2010 to be a 24/7 nurse at nurse for St. Stanislaus College. College officials told Hosemann’s office they didn’t know she was on call 24/7 and they didn’t a nurse to be on call 24/7. St. Stanislaus was already paying her to be a part-time nurse.

- Shands‘ company, Maverick Political Solutions LLC that he founded in 2008, was paid $3,275.

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Online:

Secretary of state, http://www.sos.ms.gov/links/sec_char/final_orders_and_agreements/charities/American%20Legion%20Post%201776%20-%20Consent%20Order%20-%20C-12-0436.pdf