HERNANDO, Miss. — Former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis was found guilty of two charges in his trial.
The first charge was making false representations to defraud the government, and the second charge was embezzlement.
The charges involved using a city issued vehicle, while at the same time getting reimbursed thousands of dollars for mileage.
Davis faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.
He walked out of court without a word.
“He has children, he has to make arrangements for that,” said his lawyer, Steve Farese. “You can’t imagine the feeling people get when they get a guilty verdict.”
Farese wrapped up the case by lecturing the jury, saying if they found him guilty, they weren’t looking at the evidence.
“This brilliant man who’s been mayor for years and years decided, ‘You know what, I’m going to steal gasoline,’” said Farese.
District Attorney John Champion showed logs indicating Davis’ key and PIN were used to pump gas from city pumps, but Davis also submitted logs of the miles he drove, asking for money from the exact same period.
“Time and time again he was asking taxpayers of Southaven to ‘Pay me my money for driving these miles,’ and yet he was getting free gas,” said Champion. “Boy, that’s the deal of the century.”
Officers testified they saw Davis do it.
City clerk Sheila Heath said she told him he couldn’t buy his city-issued, loaded SUV at the end of the lease, but he did anyway.
Davis’ friend, former alderman Randy Huling said Davis never asked board permission to buy that SUV.
Davis admitted he made mistakes, but said he was just working for the people.
“I had no idea trying to save taxpayer money was wrong,” said Davis. “I don’t know if anyone could every comprehend the time and effort I put into the mayor’s job, to my own detriment.”
Ronnie Hale, who was an alderman in Southaven when Davis was mayor, said, “I don’t want to see anything bad happen to anybody, but I think today was long overdue.”
“I think he understands now what was happening was not correct,” he added. “That’s what we said all along. There’s no such thing as double dipping and being able to do some of the things he did.”
Glenn Stroupe with Southaven Concerned Citizens wants Davis to spend time behind bars, but thinks he will get probation and a hearty fine.
“He just seems to have slipped by with so much already,” said Stroupe.
In May, Davis was ordered to repay $73,915.27 to the state for expenses for which he was reimbursed when he was mayor.
Davis has already paid back $96,000 of the $170,000 he was originally ordered to pay.
Some of those expenses included expensive meals, trips and even purchases at an adult book store in Canada.
Davis had appealed the original order but the court found “all counterclaims proposed by Davis are without merit and area summarily dismissed.”
For more background information, see our previous coverage of the case:
Sweeping spending changes in Southaven
Southaven Mayor Greg Davis’ spending records
Greg Davis’ ex-wife says he took lover on city-paid business trips
Southaven Mayor on the hot seat over what’s being called an attempt to hide money
Investigators digging into Mayor Greg Davis’ spending
Greg Davis timeline: Scandal dates back to 2009
Davis solicits plea offer in criminal case
Southaven mayor and alderman battle over deposition
Greg Davis civil trial continues
Southaven audit shows controversial payments were still a problem in 2012
Click here for our full archive of stories concerning Greg Davis.