JACKSON, Miss. – Today Special Agents from the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor arrested former employee of the Lowndes County Health Department Phyllis Welch after she was indicted for embezzlement by a grand jury assembled by District Attorney for the Mississippi 16th District Scott Colom. Welch was also issued a demand for $4,102.68, which includes interest and investigative costs.
The mission of the Mississippi State Department of Health is to provide resources and services to protect and advance the health of the public. Each Mississippi county maintains a local clinic where many services like tuberculosis tests, pregnancy tests, and immunizations are provided for free or at cost-effective rates. Welch was employed by the department for over 17 years.
As an office manager at the Lowndes County Department of Health, Phyllis Welch allegedly altered payment records to note bogus deductions from cash payments received from patients for services provided, which allowed her to convert the deducted amount to personal use. Internal Auditors at the Mississippi State Department of Health discovered the questionable accounting practices and reported it to the Auditor’s office for further investigation.
“This is an example of someone taking money that should have been spent on health services for the public, and we cannot afford to have that money stolen. My office has a zero tolerance policy for theft of public funds of any type, but taking money from public health is particularly galling. Those thinking about stealing money from the public coffers should see this case as proof that we are watching,” said State Auditor Shad White.
If convicted, Welch faces up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. All persons arrested by the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.