ICC college dean indicted in multi-million dollar workforce development fraud case

State

ITAWAMBA COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – On Monday, State Auditor Shad White announced two people were indicted for defrauding the state’s Workforce Enhancement Training (WET) program.

Special agents with the Auditor’s Office delivered demand letters to Eureda “Edie” Washington, Joe Lowder and two other individuals – Jennifer and David Schock. The Schocks do not face criminal charges. The Auditor’s Office also issued demand letters to Itawamba Community College (ICC) for improperly approving WET program expenditures.

Lowder served as dean of economic and community services for ICC, while Washington was a former bookkeeper.

“I’m thankful for investigators’ work which put a stop to this improper workforce training spending,” said White. “Now is the time for policymakers to acknowledge there are not enough fraud-prevention safeguards in place in our workforce training program. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on this every year. We need to be sure the money is being used appropriately.”

According to the State Auditor, Washington submitted fraudulent documents to ICC and obtained more than $680,000 in WET funding for a furniture manufacturing company owned by the Schocks. Washington allegedly controlled the application paperwork submitted by the company and was paid a percentage of the WET funds it was awarded. A $864,918.72 demand was issued to Washington and the Schocks.

White said Lowder manufactured fraudulent documents meant to obscure a double-billing scheme. By intentionally billing both private companies and the Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB) for WET program expenditures, the department’s revenue increased while taxpayers lost around $10,000. Lowder was issued a $12,818.28 demand letter.

The State Auditor said ICC paid a large amount of WET funds to a private company without ensuring program requirements had been met. According to White, the college owes more than $1.4 million to taxpayers for their failure to follow WET program guidelines.

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