Rankin County Schools’ lawn care provider gets 5 years for fraud

By Monica Land 

JACKSON – State Auditor Stacey Pickering said that Malcolm Sanders, the former lawn care provider for the Rankin County school system, will spend the next five years behind bars for billing the school for work he did not perform.

Sanders was arrested on April 11, 2011 by special agents with the state auditor’s office after a thorough investigation revealed that Sanders was not performing the work or providing the purchased product as detailed in his contract or invoices he submitted to Rankin County Schools.

“Our investigation uncovered invoices from Sanders Lawn Service for $80,260.30 for pine straw purchased that was never provided to Rankin County School District,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “Sanders Lawn Service created documents that concealed the fact that the pine straw was not provided to the Rankin County School District as reflected on the invoices submitted for payment.”

Sanders pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in Rankin County Circuit Court. He was ordered to make full restitution, $141,331.06, which includes principal, interest, investigative costs and court costs. Full restitution must be repaid within 4 years after his release from prison.

Sanders was sentenced to serve 10 years with 5 years suspended in the custody of Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC).

At the time of the investigation, Sanders was the owner of Sanders Lawn Service and had a service contract with the Rankin County School District along with other school districts in the Jackson area.

“It is very important to me as State Auditor that we send a message to the public that we hold criminals accountable,” Pickering said. “Especially when they steal taxpayer dollars and money that could be used for our students in the classroom.”

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