Woman collected $145,000 in jobless benefits using names of death row inmates Scott Peterson, Cary Stayner, Lee Anthony McCollum, William Eugene Ward and Leonard Peltier.
A Mississippi state senator was arrested and charged by a grand jury with embezzlement, according to court documents.
State Sen. Bobby Franklin, D-Hattiesburg, is accused of embezzling $145,000 in unemployment benefits. The state senator, who has represented the state capital of Jackson for 35 years, is not accused of defrauding workers out of money or even getting the money.
Instead, the documents, provided by the Mississippi Department of Emergency Management to the Hattiesburg American, show Franklin, 62, took a $145,000 sum from the Mississippi Employment Commission and used it for his personal benefit.
Franklin was indicted by a grand jury Thursday and took a leave of absence from the Senate. It is unclear when he will return to work.
The Mississippi Commission on ethics is also investigating.
The $145,000 came from unemployment benefits paid to more than 100 men who are on death row and, as well as some of the state’s most infamous convict murderers, including Willie James McCollum, whose death sentence was commuted in 2006 after he was found guilty of killing his ex-wife and her new husband.
The men named in the indictment have been convicted of their crimes and are serving time.
“The Mississippi Employment Commission is aware of the allegations against Sen. Franklin and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement agencies regarding the investigation process for all individuals with positions of authority and influence in the state of Mississippi,” Department of Employment spokeswoman Kristi Kays said.
“The investigation was launched after employees of the Mississippi Employment Commission raised concerns about a possible criminal violation by Sen. Franklin.”
State Sen. Bobby Franklin (left) and Mississippi Employment Commissioner Tony Pritchett stand in front of the Mississippi Capitol on June