A former Hancock County Justice Court deputy clerk on Monday pled guilty to embezzling more than $100,000 in public funds.
Dana Sue Beaman, 42, of Bay St. Louis, "pled guilty yesterday to two counts of Embezzlement by Public Employee before Judge Roger Clark at the Hancock County Courthouse," District Attorney Joel Smith said in a press release issued Tuesday.
Beaman served as a justice court deputy clerk from January 2008 until June 2011. After a lengthy investigation, she was arrested in July 2017.
Initially, she admitted to embezzling around $4,000 from justice court, but when the Hancock County Sheriff's Office called in the state auditor's office, that amount vastly increased, Smith said.
" The investigation began in May 2011 when former Hancock County Justice Court Clerk Elizabeth Martin discovered errors in the filing of court documents," Smith said. "This led to an inquiry by Ms. Martin with the assistance of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office where Beaman admitted to taking the public funds. The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) was then contacted, and they assumed the investigation into the matter.
"Over a six-year period, the Auditor’s Office reviewed over 45,000 records finding over 440 discrepancies associated with Beaman’s handling of payments in Hancock County Justice Court cases. These discrepancies were confirmed by numerous witnesses that were interviewed and identified Beaman as the clerk that received their payments."
The OSA determined that Beaman took $110,827 over the course of about three years, Assistant District Attorney Christ Daniel -- who prosecuted the case -- said in the release.
"At this time, $100,000 of the loss has been returned to the county due to the public employee insurance which covered Beaman," Daniel said.
When Beaman was arrested in 2017, the OSA issued a demand for her to pay $197,408 -- including the embezzled funds plus interest and recovery costs.
Clark on Monday deferred sentencing in the case until Dec. 19, ordering a pre-sentence investigation by the Mississippi Department of Corrections.