August 23, 2019
Former Town of Ecru Clerk Sentenced to Jail for Embezzlement
On August 23, 2019, Gretchin Moody, former Clerk for the Town of Ecru, Mississippi, pled guilty and was sentenced in Pontotoc County Court, Pontotoc, Mississippi, to 240 months’ incarceration, 60 months' probation, a $1,000 fine, court fees of $434.50, $93,419.15 in restitution to the Town of Ecru, $54,681.49 in interest to the Town of Ecru, $35,043.64 in investigative costs to the State of Mississippi, $5,280 in State house arrest fees, and $3,300 in State probation fees. Moody was ordered to serve the first 60 months under house arrest in the State’s Intensive Supervision Program with the Court having the option to suspend the remaining 180 months of her sentence upon her successful completion of the programs’ requirements. Moody was also ordered to pay $75,000 at the time of sentencing.
Prior to sentencing, Moody paid the State of Mississippi $150,006.70 to reimburse a portion of the funds she obtained through fraud and embezzlement. On April 8, 2019, a forfeiture order was issued for 78 firearms that Moody purchased. The weapons were recovered from Moody and her co-defendant Paul “Martin” Blaylock during this investigation—70 of which had an appraised value of $75,710 and are to be auctioned by the Town of Ecru. Eight of the firearms will be put into official use. At sentencing, the Judge ordered that the proceeds from the firearms obtained as fruits of criminal acts will not be counted towards restitution owed.
The investigation revealed that between 2004 and 2016, Moody was employed as the Clerk for the Town of Ecru. The Town Clerk is responsible for collecting all fines and fees, reviewing and submitting grant reimbursement paperwork—including National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) grant reimbursement documentation—and overseeing Town credit cards and expense and payroll. Between 2011 and 2016, Moody embezzled $278,015.10 by retaining town fines and fees, and merchandise purchased on Town credit cards; obtaining paychecks and payroll overpayments; and falsifying grant reimbursement paperwork to obtain funds that were not owed.
In addition to embezzlement for personal gain, Moody assisted Blaylock in defrauding the Town of Ecru by providing Blaylock with paychecks and payroll overpayments and falsifying NHTSA grant reimbursement paperwork. Between 2011 and 2016, Blaylock was employed by Ecru as a police officer and then as police chief. He was the sole participant in a NHTSA overtime grant. Between fiscal years 2014 and 2016, Blaylock claimed he issued 346 tickets to obtain overtime payments, but actually issued only 74 tickets. Both defendants have pled guilty and been sentenced.
This investigation was conducted by DOT-OIG, NHTSA, Mississippi Office of the State Auditor and the Mississippi Department of Transportation.