PEMISCOT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Seven people face forgery and stealing charges after police say they were paid with county funds from false invoices over the past three years.
Employees with the Pemiscot County Road and Bridge Department and local businessmen are accused of getting paid with county funds by the Pemiscot County Commission after false invoices were submitted and approved by the commission over the past three years, according to the Pemiscot County Sheriff's Department.
Four of the suspects are former road and bridge employees, two local businessmen, and one elected official.
Tracy Lynn Floyd, 40, of Caruthersville is charged with 14 counts of forgery and one count felony stealing. Floyd's bond is set at $100,000.
Randle Ridings, 62, of Senath is charged with five counts of forgery and one count felony stealing. His bond is set at $50,000.
Mayor Bobby Watkins, 39, of Hayti is charged with one count of forgery and one count felony stealing and bond set at $50,000.
Clois B. Reed, 57, of Kennett is charged with seven counts of forgery and one count of felony stealing bond set at $50,000.
Martin Welch Culver, 39, of Hayti is charged with 20 counts of forgery and one count of felony stealing over $25,000. His bond set at $100,000. Culver has resigned from his position as an alderman of Hayti.
Chris Hogan, 45, of Bragg City is charged with five counts of forgery and one count felony stealing bond set at $50,000.
Rickie Eugene Harden, 63, of Caruthersville is charged with three counts of forgery and one count felony stealing and bond set at $50,000.
All of the men, except Culver, bonded out by Monday evening.
The Pemiscot County Sheriff's Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Division of Drug and Crime Control conducted the three month investigation.
Pemiscot County Sheriff Tommy Greenwell says investigators found several fictitious documents in the years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 later paid by the Pemiscot County Commission once they were approved.
Several other persons of interest have been questioned during the course of this investigation. The investigation is still ongoing.
Some people in Pemiscot County say they were surprised to find out about the arrests, others not so much. "I'm shocked like everybody else in the community and hope that something will be done about it," said Hayti resident Randy Tomlin.
"During my time as Sheriff I've seen quite a bit, I've been here 15 years," said Pemiscot County Sheriff Tommy Greenwell. "Unfortunately we've arrested several public officials in Pemiscot County, and I hate that it happened, but yeah I've seen it before."
Some also say they are very frustrated since they feel the county is already struggling for money, and can't afford to lose these dollars.
"This is tax dollars, Pemiscot County is basically a broke county if you've read, I'm sure you know about the audit that we just went through with the state auditor's office," said Greenwell. "If there's anyone out there with information we need, we'd like for them to contact us, because we'd like to clear all this up in one investigation."
"I mean I don't think this has broke the county, but it sure has put a dent in it," said Tomlin. "I think there ought to be something done about it."
The City of Hayti released the following statement at the November 28, 2011 Board of Alderman meeting: " The City of Hayti has been advised that criminal charges have been filed by the Pemiscot County Prosecuting Attorney against its mayor, Bobby Watkins. Presently, the City has very little information relating to the charges as the allegations in the criminal proceedings are not based upon any malfeasance in the performance of his duties as Mayor. Based on information provided to the city, the charges do not relate in any way to misappropriation of city funds. The city will defer making further comment relating to the criminal charges while they remain pending."