State Auditor Shad White has announced that Special Agents from his office arrested two suspects in Rankin County on separate embezzlement cases: Hope Bishop, the former Vice President of Human Resources at the Mississippi Lottery Corporation, and Brittney Phillips, a former clerk at the Rankin County Tax Collector’s Office.
Bishop is accused of giving herself unauthorized raises. The Lottery Commission staff discovered Bishop’s alleged embezzlement and reported it to the State Auditor’s office when they were improving lottery operations. The Commission has now put into place additional controls to prevent embezzlement in the future. Bishop was served a $187,738.85 demand at the time of her arrest.
Bishop had no access to the gaming side of lottery operations, so her alleged actions did not affect the integrity of lottery games.
Phillips is accused of embezzling cash from the Rankin County Tax Collector’s Office by not registering car tags and taking the cash payments. Tax Collector Caroline Gilbert turned the case over to the Auditor’s Office when she suspected that Phillips was potentially embezzling funds. Phillips was served a $36,583.47 demand at the time of her arrest.
“We’re grateful for the work of the Lottery Commission and Tax Collector Caroline Gilbert in helping to identify these suspects,” said Auditor White. “If you know of anyone potentially stealing taxpayer funds, please call us at 1-800-321-1275, and we’ll take it from there.”
Bishop faces up to 20 years and $25,000 in fines if convicted. Phillips faces up to 20 years and $5,000 in fines if convicted.
All persons arrested by the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. District Attorney John “Bubba” Bramlett’s office will prosecute the case.
An insurance policy covers Bishop’s employment at the Mississippi Lottery Corporation. A $50,000 surety bond covers Phillips’ employment at the Rankin County Tax Collector’s Office. Surety bonds are similar to insurance designed to protect taxpayers from corruption. Both suspects will remain liable for the full amount of the demand in addition to criminal proceedings.
Suspected fraud can be reported to the Auditor’s office online at any time by clicking the red button at www.osa.ms.gov or calling 1-(800)-321-1275 during normal business hours.
Photos provided by Mississippi State Auditor’s Office