Mississippi airport manager charged with embezzling $9,300
A former Mississippi airport manager is accused of embezzling government money to use in part for gambling. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
The former manager of a Mississippi airport has been indicted for embezzlement following an investigation by the state auditor general’s office.
used Tunica County airport credit card to pay for personal expenses, including gambling
Eric Konupka allegedly used the Tunica County airport credit card to pay for his personal expenses, including gambling at local casinos. He also used the card to withdraw cash from an ATM, which he then used to cover a restaurant bill and buy food, automotive supplies, energy drinks and cigarettes.
The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office handles the prosecutions. If found guilty, Konupka could face thousands of dollars in fines and up to 20 years in prison.
Konupka was charged in a local court and ordered to pay back $9,259.55 to the government for his fraudulent use of the credit card. The fine covers the money he spent plus interest, as well as investigation costs.
According to state auditor Shad White, the amount of money is irrelevant to the case. Instead, the mere embezzlement of government money was enough to justify his involvement.
we will hold the line on any misuse of taxpayers’ money”
“Whether it’s the biggest public fraud in the state or an employee using a government acquisition card to purchase items worth a few thousand dollars for themselves, we will keep the cap on any misuse of taxpayers’ money,” White said in a statement. “We have to rely on prosecutors to decide when to charge someone with a crime, so I’m grateful for the cooperation between investigators and prosecutors in this case.”
Konupka has already bonded and will wait in Florida, where he was originally arrested, until a court date is set by a Mississippi judge. No information has been released on how the money was found missing.
The defendant worked at the airport, considered a government entity, from 2003-21. His working time is protected by a clause aimed at preventing taxpayers from becoming corrupt, according to White’s statement.
More embezzlement cases in Mississippi
Mississippi is still trying to navigate its way past the ongoing Brett Favre controversy. According to multiple reports, the Hall of Fame quarterback, assisted by former Gov. Phil Bryant, directed taxpayer money earmarked for welfare to help build a new volleyball arena at the daughter’s school, the University of Southern Mississippi.
Mississippi has the highest poverty rate of any US state at 19.58%, nearly one percent ahead of the closest state (Louisiana).
Meanwhile, cases of embezzlement are on the rise across the world. A week ago, an Indonesian provincial governor was investigated after he was caught gambling at Crown Resorts in Australia. Indonesian authorities claimed to have found $36.2 million in Lukas Enembe’s account, despite him only earning an annual salary of $7,764.
In late July, a Welsh finance manager was discovered to have stolen more than £47,000 ($56,629) in 2020 from a charity she worked for.