A former deputy municipal clerk for the Town of Sumrall faces up to 25 years in prison or $15,00 in fines after being arrested by State Auditor Shad White’s office for allegedly embezzling cash when town residents came to pay their water bills.
Juanyana Holloway was taken into custody after being indicted for fraud, alteration of records and embezzlement by a local grand jury. She allegedly did not include cash collections on daily bank deposit slips; from 2018 to 2020, Holloway allegedly took more than $13,000 from the town and its residents.
“This case, particularly, is one where folks just came and paid their bills in cash,” said Logan Reeves, who serves as public relations director for White’s office. “Obviously, cash is anonymous; it’s difficult to track, especially when you have someone who is willing to be dishonest when it comes to collecting and reporting it.
“That’s how we end up in this situation. It really boils down to lack of controls in a lot of ways, and accepting cash is one of them.”
Upon Holloway’s arrest, special agents presented her with a $28,686 demand letter, which includes interest and investigative expenses. Holloway surrendered herself to special agents in Lamar County on Nov. 10; her bail was set at $25,000 by the Lamar County Circuit Court.
Holloway’s case will be prosecuted by the office of 15th Circuit District Attorney Hal Kittrell.
“I don’t want to say this is the exact type of scheme, but it’s a pretty standard issue when it comes to things our office sees regularly,” Reeves said. “That is, small-town clerks who skim cash when local taxpayers come to pay their bills.
“It’s sad, but that’s something we see commonly. We see time after time after time, water bills, trash bills – that kind of thing, in small, tucked-away places where cash is being skimmed as folks come to pay their taxes or their bills.”
A $50,000 surety bond covers Holloway’s time as an employee of the Town of Sumrall. Surety bonds are similar to insurance, designed to protect taxpayers from corruption.
Holloway will remain liable for the full amount of the demand in addition to criminal proceedings.
“As the native of a small town in the Pine Belt myself, my team and I will never turn a blind eye to what is happening with taxpayer money in our community,” White said in a statement. “We will hold the line and enforce the law wherever we find theft of public funds.”
Suspected fraud can be reported to the Auditor’s office online any time by clicking the red button at www.osa.ms.gov or via telephone during normal business hours at (800) 321-1275.