- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

ECRU, Miss. (AP) - Officials say the former police chief and town clerk in a northeast Mississippi town stole nearly $300,000 from the 900-resident town and state, with the clerk using some money to buy guns and give them to the chief.

Pontotoc County grand jurors on Monday indicted former Ecru clerk Gretchin Moody of Pontotoc on three counts of embezzlement and former Ecru police chief Paul Blaylock of Belden on one count of fraud.

The indictment accuses Moody of stealing $128,000 in town court fines and $69,000 in payroll, plus using town credit cards to make $46,000 in personal purchases.

Blaylock is accused of sending in fake statements that led to unearned overtime payments from a state program that pays police officers to enforce traffic laws, as well as bilking the town for additional unearned overtime.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering seized more than 75 guns as evidence. It’s not clear if Moody bought all of them.

Ecru officials notified Pickering after finding accounting problems.

“We received a complaint that basically said there was some discrepancies in payroll, and we started going and looking into payroll and realizing that, with Ms. Moody being in charge of payroll, that she was actually writing herself some extra checks,” auditor’s special agent Josh Campbell told WCBI-TV.

The town fired Moody in May 2016 after suspending her and changing the locks. Blaylock was fired in September 2016.

Pickering is demanding that Moody repay $333,000 including $90,000 in interest and investigation charges. He demands Blaylock repay $60,000, including $9,000 in interest and investigation charges.

Attorney General Jim Hood is prosecuting the cases and could also file civil cases against the pair seeking repayment if they don’t meet Pickering’s demands within 30 days.

Moody was released on $30,000 bail and Blaylock was released on $20,000 bail. Pickering spokesman Logan Reeves said the auditor’s office doesn’t know of a lawyer representing either Moody or Blaylock.

Reeves said the auditor’s office believes Moody and Blaylock knew of each other’s actions and that Moody aided Blaylock at times.

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