- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Three former employees of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources have admitted they were falsely reimbursed for travel expenses.

Leslie Gollott, of former Coastal Resource Management and Planning projects officer, was sentenced Wednesday by Harrison County Circuit Judge Roger Clark to two years house arrest followed by five years’ probation. Gollott was accused of embezzling $175 in May 2009 by way of a travel voucher. She also was ordered to repay $30,305.22 in misappropriated money Wednesday and fined $2,000.

Former geographic system coordinator Grant Larsen and former coordinator Susan Perkins were each sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to pay fines of $1,000 each.

They each pleaded guilty to one charge each of felony false pretense for falsifying travel vouchers. By pleading guilty to false pretense rather than embezzlement, they may be able to have their records wiped clean after five years.

Both had to pay restitution. Larsen had repaid $821.91 he received in October 2008. Perkins had to return $679.39 from November 2011.

While employed at MDMR, two of the defendants said, their supervisor, Tina Shumate, tried to tell them what they should say to investigators then working to uncover crimes in the agency, and she asked them to manufacture receipts, according to court documents.

Shumate, also charged in the case, denies any wrongdoing. Her trial is set for October, but she has requested a change of venue due to pretrial news coverage.

Shumate managed the DMR’s Office of Coastal Resource Management and Planning.

Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker told Clark all three had fully cooperated with the investigation and are prepared to testify at Shumate’s trial.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1pn8HCB ) another former MDMR employee, Kerwin Cuevas, who was director of the artificial reef program, is scheduled for trial Aug. 14 on two embezzlement charges.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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