Ex-Natchez school board member sentenced

Published 4:38 am Sunday, November 18, 2007

James Coleman, a former Natchez-Adams School Board member, has been sentenced to 20 years for two counts of embezzlement.

Circuit Judge Forrest “Al” Johnson on Friday ordered Coleman to serve five years in prison with 15 years probation. Coleman, convicted of embezzling money from Mississippi River Corporation, also was ordered to pay $175,000 in restitution.

Two of Coleman’s co-defendants were also sentenced in Friday’s hearing.

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Edwin Hardin and Gary Kingsberry were Coleman’s co-workers and helped him funnel stolen money through their accounts, prosecutors said.

Coleman stole $605,000 from his former employer, according to an indictment.

Kingsberry will serve three years in jail. Hardin will serve one year in jail.

Prosecutors said Coleman helped 16 of his co-workers to falsify their work hours so that they could be paid for hours they did not actually work. In exchange the workers gave Coleman a percentage of the stolen money, prosecutors said.

On Oct. 31, Coleman pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement after being indicted on 16 counts.