By Associated Press - Monday, February 1, 2021

ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) - A Mississippi mayor is being removed from office after pleading guilty to embezzlement by a public official.

News outlets report Aberdeen Mayor Maurice Howard entered the plea Monday in Monroe County Circuit Court. Howard had been set to go on trial this week.

Circuit Judge John White ordered Howard’s removal from office. White also gave Howard a 10-year suspended sentence, which means Howard will not go to prison.

Howard was indicted on embezzlement charges in October 2019. State Auditor Shad White said at the time that Howard was accused of taking city funds meant to pay for travel expenses for city business. White said Howard was paid in advance for attending meetings or conferences but then didn’t go.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that one of Howard’s attorneys, Michael Todd Sterling of Atlanta, told the judge Monday that he had gotten to know Howard the past few weeks. Howard also works as a pastor.

“I think he’s an asset to his community, a dedicated father and a dedicated husband and he intends to use his second chance to better his community,” Sterling said.

The newspaper reported that the judge also ordered Howard to pay court costs of $432, a bond fee of $200 and the victim’s bond fee of $10. White also ordered Howard to pay $8,226 of restitution to Old Republic Surety Company of Milwaukee.

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