BELZONI, Miss. — A Mississippi court clerk has been indicted and arrested on charges that he overpaid himself and created fake court cases to drive up fees he collected.
Humphreys County Chancery Court Clerk Lawrence Browder was indicted Monday on one count of making fraudulent statements. State Auditor Shad White said Browder was arrested Monday and released. Browder didn’t immediately return a phone call Tuesday and it’s unclear if he has a lawyer to comment on his behalf.
Browder faces up to five years in prison, $10,000 in fines and removal from office if convicted. Attorney General Jim Hood’s office will prosecute the case.
Browder illegally obtained more than $237,000, White said. The Republican auditor is demanding that Browder pay nearly $280,000, including interest and investigative fees.
If the money is not repaid within 30 days, White said he will file a lawsuit. He also said he will seek repayment from the bonding company that insured Browder.
Browder forced his staff to create false youth court and lunacy cases from January 2016 to January 2017, pocketing $31,350 in fees, White said. The remaining $206,000 comes from fees White said Browder paid himself that were above a yearly cap. By law, part of chancery clerks’ salaries are paid by fees they collect, but no chancery clerk can receive more than $90,000 in fees each year.
Browder has served as Humphreys County chancery clerk since 1996.