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Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2011


State Auditor demands $292,772 from former county administrator

By Billy Davis

State Auditor Stacey Pickering on Wednesday issued a demand for $292,772 against former Panola County Administrator David Chandler following a months-long investigation.

Pickering said Chandler received $84,296 in “disallowable overtime pay” when he was serving in the salaried position at the time.

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The state investigation also alleges the former administrator falsified documents to the Public Retirement System of Mississippi, the state retirement system known as PERS.

Chandler, now 55, retired from his county job in 2008 and immediately began working at the same job on a contract basis at nearly the same salary, a violation of two state laws, Pickering said in a press conference in Jackson.

Public employees in Mississippi must wait 45 days before returning to a government job after they retire, earning no more than 50 percent of their previous salary when they return.  

Chandler retired in June 2007 and began working on a month-to-month contract the following month.

His annual salary was $96,756, or $8,063 monthly, during the last year of his employment. The county contract paid him $8,016 a month. 

Chandler was drawing his state retirement when he was being paid the monthly contract fee, the investigation alleges.

The state auditor claimed Chandler drew retirement benefits from July 2007 through September 2008, and the demand includes retirement overpayments of $120,865.

“This was done by an individual who knew the system very well,” Pickering said at the press conference. “As a county administrator, with a financial background, he was able to take advantage of loopholes throughout the system.”

Chandler was working as an auditor for the state agency when he was hired as county administrator in 1987.

The demand also includes: $63,564 in interest; $18,423 in investigative costs and $5,622 in retirement contributions and interest due to PERS.

Chandler’s attorney, Hiram Eastland III of Greenwood, said his client is cooperating with the State Auditor’s Office to resolve the civil demand.

Asked if criminal charges are pending, Pickering said “further steps” would be taken as part of the state’s investigation.

Pickering said his office received a tip that kicked off the investigation.