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Unofficial results point to embezzlement

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Ellis County Press
FERRIS — The City of Ferris has not yet received a final report from state auditors on alleged embezzlement, but the unofficial results do not look good.

At a city council meeting on Monday, Oct. 16, Mayor Jimmie Birdwell reported monies taken in an alleged embezzlement case had not been reported to the state and court costs had not been reported properly. The total amount due the state is $54,280.71. Of that, $11,589.50 is the tax due on the embezzled monies.

At the meeting, Birdwell stated the audit results were available for review, but city employees later declined to produce them, stating the results were not yet final.

'And that's true,' Birdwell said later, after supplying the preliminary findings. 'We haven't got the report yet. But whatever we have, the people have a right to see.'

When interviewed, Birdwell said he did not know why charges against former City Clerk Gailen Hand have not yet been presented to the grand jury.

'I filed everything I had to,' he said. 'That Monday morning, when I found out about it, I called the insurance, the attorney, the auditors and the district attorney.'

Don Mansfield of the district attorney's office said he had only received the case for screening on Nov. 8. Apparently, investigators for the district attorney had experienced some delays in obtaining necessary information from banks and other records. Mansfield said his caseload and other duties may further delay the case.

'But, hopefully, I'll have it screened by next week,' he said, 'and it will be put in the rotation for the grand jury.'

Mansfield said the grand jury should rule on the case in the next 30 days, more or less.

Birdwell said once the final audit report is presented, the city will be able to make a payment arrangement with the state.

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