Columbus Administrator Stephen Jones break acquired hundreds’ of dollars account of commodity in beneath than three weeks from the Bargain Hunt on Highway 45, according to abundance annal and surveillance footage.
That includes $373 account of items that were scanned at the annals afresh deleted from the balance afore Jones paid, as able-bodied as several added items aegis footage shows were never scanned that Jones took accomplished the point of sale.
In anniversary case — which included bristles instances amid Aug. 22 and Sept. 6 — Jones arrested out at the annals of Sharon Renae Smith, 51, a above Bargain Hunt accountant actuality answerable with abomination abstraction for acceptance at atomic seven barter to leave the abundance with added than $3,000 of contributed items over several months.
The Dispatch acquired the abundance surveillance footage and balance records, as able-bodied as acclaim agenda receipts from those transactions, in acknowledgment to a Mississippi Public Annal Act request. All are allotment of Columbus Badge Department’s analytic book in the abstraction case adjoin Smith.
Invoices acquired acutely announce which items were deleted afterwards they were scanned, as able-bodied as anniversary customer’s adjustment of payment. The acclaim agenda annal arise to The Dispatch all bout the amounts the abundance invoices said barter paid for affairs area the agenda was used.
CPD Chief Fred Shelton arise the abstraction investigation, and arise analytic letters that listed Jones and his wife, Stephanie, amid the barter who benefited from the declared crime, during a columnist appointment on Tuesday. At that time, Shelton said Bargain Hunt alone intends to accompany accuse adjoin Smith and the barter would acceptable not face prosecution.
Jones, who has represented Ward 5 back 2016, has denied any wrongdoing, asserting in a antecedent interview, “I paid for all my stuff” and suggesting his actuality active was an accomplishment to apply his name. He said he doesn’t alone apperceive Smith.
He told The Dispatch he still hasn’t apparent the badge letters or surveillance footage, but contrarily beneath to comment, citation admonition from the advocate he has retained. Jones additionally beneath an action from The Dispatch to watch the videos with reporters at the bi-weekly appointment and explain his ancillary of the story, afresh adage his advocate brash adjoin it.
Smith angry herself in afterwards Tuesday’s columnist appointment and has been arise on band from Lowndes County Adult Detention Center.
In a account Saturday to The Dispatch, Shelton said badge are still investigating how Jones benefited from absolution barter leave Bargain Hunt with contributed items.
What the surveillance videos show
Surveillance footage, which includes no audio, shows in the best contempo adventure involving the councilman, on Sept. 6, Jones and an anonymous changeable access Smith’s annals with a buggy absolute several items — amid them a ample box, a bag of backyard fertilizer and addition bag of agnate size.
Smith scans the fertilizer and appears to attack to browse the ample box while it is in the buggy, but it doesn’t arise on the balance as scanned. The additional bag of appurtenances in the buggy is never scanned, and Jones pays alone $9.63 with a acclaim agenda afore leaving.
On Aug. 30, footage shows Jones afresh aing Smith’s annals with a buggy absolute several items. Smith pulls what the balance addendum is a HEPA air bactericide from abaft the adverse and appears to accept agitation scanning it. Meanwhile, a macho agent is apparent continuing at the end of the annals with a buggy absolute added items.
Jones appears to absolute the macho agent to the parking lot, and afterwards he is out of the frame, Smith scans in the HEPA clarify — priced at $105 — and promptly deletes it from the invoice, annal show. Addition ample box in Jones’ buggy is never scanned, and Jones pays a absolute of $11.77 in banknote for toilet cardboard and a accomplishments domiciliary bung afore abrogation the point of auction with all the items.
On Aug. 29, Jones comes to Smith’s annals with three items in his buggy, all in ample boxes. Smith scanned one box, a Ninja affable apparatus priced at $67.50, and alert scanned a tag on the adverse beside the annals that the balance shows rang up as two brace of women’s shoes priced at $5 each.
Smith never scans the added two boxes in the buggy, and she deletes the Ninja apparatus afore commutual the sale, for which Jones pays $10.70 via acclaim card.
The ancient adventure involving the councilman, on Aug. 22, complex a washer, an electric broiler table and a 20-ounce Fanta, all of which Smith scanned afore deleting the broiler table and the alcohol — priced at a accumulated $200.50. Jones paid alone for the washer ($84.53 including tax) afore abrogation the abundance with all three items.
Video shows Stephanie Jones, the councilman’s wife, blockage out on Aug. 21 at Smith’s register. She pays a absolute of $20.86 for clothing, swimwear and laundry detergent. But Smith deletes two added items of bactericide — priced at $20 absolute — and never scans three bales of what arise to be blankets or bed linens.
Stephanie leaves the point of auction with all the items, the video shows.
For the Bargain Hunt investigation, The Dispatch has additionally requested anatomy camera footage the burghal has not yet provided.
Assorted burghal admiral adumbrated that footage would appearance an account amid a CPD administrator who responded to the abstraction address and a Bargain Hunt accident blockage employee.
Smith’s bent record
Smith ahead served time in federal bastille afterwards argumentation accusable to cabal to bamboozle the government, according to federal cloister documents.
In 2007, she was bedevilled to 40 months in prison, a year afterwards she and six added women were accusable for assorted counts of cabal and fraud. According to the indictment, the seven defendants bogus apocryphal coffer checks — including apocryphal names and added affected forms of identification — which they acclimated to acquirement articles at retail food both in and alfresco Mississippi.
At the time of her sentencing, Smith was additionally ordered to pay $346,946 in restitution.
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