ALCORN COUNTY, Miss. – The Alcorn County Sheriff along with two others are arrested after a 10-count indictment each for fraud and conspiracy.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering made the announcement Monday that Sheriff Charles Rinehart, Teddy Null and Pamela Denise Null were arrested. The Nulls were owners of Cars for Less.
The Auditor’s investigation uncovered that the Sheriff’s Department had purchased six cars from Cars for Less over the past three years. Fraudulent quotes representing other vendors were created by Teddy Null and Pamela Denise Null to ensure Cars for Less was the lowest quote. The quotes were submitted by Sheriff Rinehart to the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors as competitive quotes for vehicle purchases as well as for trade in and sale transactions.
The State Auditor’s investigation indicates that the six vehicles purchased from Cars for Less were salvaged vehicles at the time of purchase and were rebuilt with potentially stolen parts prior to being sold to the County.
The Nulls did not disclose the condition of several vehicles purchased during the bid or sale process. MBI participated in the raid last week with the State Auditor’s Office and is currently analyzing the six vehicles to determine if stolen parts were used on the vehicles sold to Alcorn County Sheriff’s Office.
“Based on our investigation, Sheriff Rinehart used his position to manipulate the system,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “Teddy Null and Pamela Denise Null conspired with the Sheriff to ensure their company received the Sheriff’s business, while not disclosing the condition of all the salvage vehicles to the County. In addition, our investigation has uncovered questions relating to the business operations at Cars for Less in Alcorn County. The behavior of the Sheriff and this vendor is deplorable and will not be tolerated.”
“I want to thank District Attorney John Weddle and his staff for their partnership in bringing this case to an Alcorn County Grand Jury,” Auditor Pickering said. “I appreciate the District Attorney’s serious commitment to fighting public corruption in Mississippi.”
Weddle said today that “Alcorn County citizens deserve fair and honest public officials they elect to office. They should expect their officials to have good judgment in dealing with vendors. This indictment is another step forward in protecting the people of this district from fraudulent practices. We appreciate the hard work of State Auditor Stacey Pickering and his staff for their continuing work in Alcorn County and this case.”
In addition to today’s arrest, Sheriff Rinehart was issued an unrelated civil demand on June 18, 2015, in the amount of $181,161.93, for funds misappropriated by his department relating to The Alcorn County Regional Correctional Facility Technology Fund, The Alcorn County Sheriff’s Commissary Account, and The Alcorn County Regional Correctional Facility.
Sheriff Reinhart was first elected in 2008. He is not seeking re-election this year.