June 12, 2014 10:16:36 AM
HERNANDO -- A DeSoto County jury Wednesday found former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis guilty in an embezzlement case.
The Commercial Appeal reports the verdict was reached after about two hours of deliberations.
Prosecutors said Davis defrauded the city of Southaven when he bought a city-leased SUV without aldermen approval in 2009. He got the $25,000 vehicle for $11,000, and bought the SUV before the city had the option to purchase it. He also was charged with embezzling more than $4,000 worth of gas from city fuel pumps used by police and firefighters when he was also getting monthly mileage checks to cover travel and gas for his vehicle.
"I am very pleased with the verdict and am glad DeSoto County jurors held him accountable for his actions," said District Attorney John Champion in a statement late Wednesday.
Davis, 48, had testified earlier Wednesday that he was saving the city money when he bought the vehicle. And, he said when he filled it with gas from the city pumps he did so because he was on city business as leader of the state's third largest municipality.
Davis was charged with making false representations to defraud government and embezzlement. He served 16 years as mayor, from 1997 until last year when he lost his re-election bid to current Mayor Darren Musselwhite.
He was indicted on the fraud and embezzlement charges in 2012.
"This has been a long investigation and process but I am pleased with today's ruling and hope it will bring some closure to the citizens of Southaven," Auditor Stacey Pickering said.
After the verdict, Davis remained stoic as he was surrounded by cameras as he left the county court in Hernando.
Davis' defense attorney, Steve Farese, said he plans to appeal.
On the fraud charge, Davis faces a maximum of five years in prison. On the embezzlement charge, he faces a maximum of 20 years.
Davis will be sentenced July 10.
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