JACKSON – Circuit Judge Billy Joe Landrum of the 18th Circuit Court District has not been following state law in administering a Jones County Community Services Program for offenders coming through his court, according to the State Auditor’s Office.
Landrum created the program in 1997 and has managed the account since 2005.
“The financial management by Judge Landrum does not conform to state law,” State Auditor Stacy Pickering said.
Pickering’s office has issued a demand against Landrum for $313,726.73.
Acting on an official complaint filed with his office, the Auditor’s investigation shows $4,699.52 in fuel purchases; $82,637.77 for vehicle purchases and $197,439.50 in courtroom security officers’ salaries and employer salary expenses were paid from the Community Services Program account but not associated with the program. One or more vehicles belonging to the program were utilized for private travel. The mileage and usage costs for the specific trips have been calculated by the Auditor to be $4,605.94.
The Jones County Community Services Program allows offenders to pay extra fines to perform public work instead of being incarcerated. The extra funds deposited into the program made it self-sustaining.
“While the program has merit as an alternative to costly incarceration of offenders, Judge Landrum did not use accounting practices that must be followed when dealing with payments to public entities,” Pickering said. “His intentions may have been honorable but he did not follow the law.”
Donations from a public entity to private individuals are prohibited by Article 4, §66 of the Mississippi Constitution.
The findings and information of this investigation will be made available to the District Attorney’s Office and turned over to the Judicial Performance Commission to determine if or what additional actions may be warranted.
“I’ve known Judge Landrum all my life; we are both from Jones County. However, my sworn oath of office demands that I perform the duties of State Auditor which I will always strive to do,” Pickering added.