Clerk's Embezzlement Sentencing Delayed

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A sentencing delayed was delayed Thursday for a former local court clerk charged in an embezzlement scheme.

Former Lauderdale County justice clerk Victoria Neely was supposed to be sentenced at 2 p.m. Thursday. But the hearing was postponed at the last minute.

As for a reason for the delay in sentencing, the Lauderdale County District Attorney's Office says Neely's attorney asked for the delay because he had not had a chance to read through a pre-sentencing packet.

Harrison Lewis says he is the one who contacted Mississippi's state auditor in October of 2010 after he says he suspected Neely of embezzling funds she collected for traffic fines. That led state officials and the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department to investigate. Lewis tells Newscenter 11 he was accused in court of not paying a $75 traffic citation from the mid-1990s. But come 2010, he says he was asked to pay that same ticket, then worth $275. Now, he says he wants justice.

"Now, is an official in Lauderdale County who has committed a crime of embezzlement going to get the same punishment as the regular citizen?" Lewis questions. "And I think there will be a public outcry if Ms. Neely gets sentenced for 5 or 10 years."

Newscenter 11 also spoke to a friend of Neely's, who was there to speak to the judge on her friend's behalf.

"I'm not saying that she shouldn't pay for what she did," Patsy Alford says. "We're just praying and hoping that the judge will let her pay restitution and also give her probation."

Lewis says he is hoping for a harsh sentence, saying he thinks it would be sending the wrong message to the public otherwise.

The District Attorney's Office says it was ready to address the sentencing at Thursday's hearing. However, they will have to wait until the newly scheduled hearing on August 16th at 2:30 p.m.