Former Warren County circuit clerk ordered to pay more than $17,000 on contempt charges


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VICKSBURG, Mississippi — Former Warren County Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley Palmertree has been ordered to pay part of the money she was holding for a widow that was found missing.

Warren County Court Judge Johnny Price on Friday ordered Palmertree to pay the money within 30 days.

The Vicksburg Post ( reports the money stemmed from funds ordered into the court registry after a 2013 lawsuit involving proceeds of the sale of weapons owned by the late Dr. Hildon H. Sessums Jr. Sessums died last November and the money was missing when officials went to disburse it.

Warren County Administrator John Smith testified a check for precisely the amount to be paid to Lisa Sessums, the physician's widow, was written on May 8 from the office's criminal account — which is supposed to hold fines, fees and restitution paid in criminal cases — to the office's civil account, which holds fines and fees paid in civil matters like land and money disputes.

"This money went into the wrong account and came out in the hands of Shelly Ashley-Palmertree," said county board attorney Marcie Southerland.

Both the civil and criminal accounts were frozen the day Palmertree was ousted from office. Smith said the criminal account had $32,640.99 at the time; the civil account contained $18,915.21.

Palmertree, scheduled to report to prison Oct. 15, was advised Friday to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights by her counsel, Sam Brand.

Price directed Palmertree to pay $17,459 to current Circuit Clerk Greg Peltz, who will combine that with money left in one of Palmertree's accounts after she was removed May 19. Peltz in turn will pay $36,000 to a widow for whom Palmertree was supposed to be holding the money.

Palmertree was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for embezzling $12,000 from the two holding accounts on two occasions in 2012. State Auditor Stacey Pickering continues to seek $1.04 million from her in Hinds County Chancery Court. The amount covers activity from 2006 to 2011 and includes interest and investigative costs.

Information from: The Vicksburg Post,

Information from: The Vicksburg Post,

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