Former MDE Director Indicted for Bribery

The former Director of the Mississippi Department of Education among three others has been indicted for bribery and the misusing of public money.

The United States Attorney's Office Southern District of Mississippi released information that the indictment charges former Director of the Mississippi Department of Education, Cerissa Renfroe Neal. David Hunt of Jackson, Tennessee, and from Memphis, Tennessee Joseph Kyles and Lambert Martin. The four are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and seven counts of wire fraud.

While former director Neal and Kyles face an additional one count of money laundering and three counts of bribery.

From 2013 to 2016, Neal was the director of the MDE when the alleged crimes took place. Investigators saying she used false quotes, altered purchase orders at inflated prices, and used bid-rigging to help profit the three other's businesses.

Investigators believe $650 thousand dollars was taken from the state of Mississippi.

"I applaud the investigative work in this case and that of our federal partners. In 2017, the auditor's office provided information about these defendants to federal authorities. So I'm grateful for the work of those investigators and former auditor Pickering as well," Mississippi State Auditor Shad White said in a statement.

If convicted, each could face a maximum of 20 years for each count of conspiracy and wire fraud and 10 years for each count of money laundering and bribery.

The case has been assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee for trial.

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