2 charged with embezzling from American Legion
Apr 11, 2014 | 4211 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A well-known politicial figure in the state and his sister have been indicted on felony charges of embezzling more than $600,000 from Mississippi Delta American Legion Post 1776.

A grand jury in Bolivar County handed down the indictments March 26, about a month after Morgan P. Shands agreed to repay the American Legion in Cleveland $370,000.

He is charged with conspiring to commit embezzlement. Shands and his sister, Rachel Shands Buser, also are charged with embezzling $613,834.13 from the American Legion.

Shands posted $75,000 bond April 3 in Bolivar County.

Mississippi Gaming Commission led the investigation and turned over the findings to the Bolivar County District Attorney's office.

The American Legion operates a bingo game and Shands was the adjutant for the organization. The indictment says the activities by Shands and Buser occurred between Jan. 1, 2008 and Sept. 7, 2012.

In 2013, Shands was campaign manager for Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes and for State Attorney General Jim Hood.

Shands also has worked as a special assistant to Hood and as a field representative for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker. He also was a former executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party.

In February, Shands signed a consent agreement to repay the American's charity fund $370,116 over 10 years, and was required to make a $5,000 initial payment.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said the discrepancy in the American Legion's books was found by his Charities Division. American Legion was fined $17,000 for violations of the Mississippi Charities Act, and that fine has been paid, the agency said.

The investigation also found that Shands used $108,480 from the Saint Ambrose Leadership College project, $56,966 in post funds and $6,500 from St. Anthony's program. Hosemann's office also found Shands paid his wife $104,893 to be a 24/7 nurse for St. Stanislaus College, where she was a part time nurse. College officials said they didn't know she was on call and didn't need a nurse on call 24/7. Shands also paid $3,275 to his company, Maverick Political Solutions LLC, the investigation found.