A Quitman County School District employee who teaches gifted students and is a pastor was arrested after she was indicted for fraud, Auditor Shad White announced. A demand letter worth $72,031.44 was delivered to Linder Howze-Campbell at the time of her arrest. The total demand amount includes interest and the cost of the investigation.
Howze-Campbell allegedly submitted fraudulent documents to circumvent laws designed to save money for taxpayers. Because she oversaw the gifted-student program for the QCSD, Howze-Campbell knew a business could be paid more money to identify gifted students in the district than the salary she could be paid for the same work. She is accused of fraudulently operating her own business – L & A Educational Services – under the name of a friend, which caused the school district to overpay for gifted-student identification services. The school district paid nearly $50,000 to Howze-Campbell’s business from 2015-17 in addition to her salary.
A routine audit led to suspicion Howze-Campbell had submitted forged business contracts to the school district. Investigators determined the friend she listed as executive director of L & A Educational Services was never an employee of the company. They also identified more than 50 fraudulent checks Howze-Campbell wrote from an L & A Educational Services bank account without the knowledge of the person listed as executive director of the company. The checks were issued directly to benefit Howze-Campbell, a different company she owns, and a church where she serves as pastor.
“After Howze-Campbell’s company submitted unusual testing data, increased scrutiny by the Department of Education helped uncover fraud and led to a successful investigation,” said White. “Mississippians deserve to know that public employees and private consulting firms are providing the work they say they are, and this type of willful fraud is inexcusable.”
Howze-Campbell waived arraignment, and her bond was set at $5,000.
If convicted, Howze-Campbell faces $10,000 in fines and five years in prison.