The decision by Mark Golding to plead guilty to two counts of fraud involving the coroner’s office and avoid a trial probably was in his best interest.
He was sentenced to 10 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, but six of those years were suspended. He also received four years of post-release supervision and ordered to repay $398,418.83.
A State Auditor’s Office investigation of Golding determined he submitted false claims totaling more than $276,000 to the Union County Board of Supervisors. He altered records and submitted false death investigation reports.
We don’t generally comment on jury verdicts in trials, but this was a special situation. There was no jury and no trial. We have two general thoughts.
First, based on the investigation we think a jury of his peers likely could have convicted him on many counts. His onerous and blatant misuse of taxpayer money does not sit well with us. We have zero tolerance for public officials’ stealing, and we doubt jurors would have had much either. So, we think he made a very attractive deal.
Second, the entire affair is an embarrassment to Union County and its elected Board of Supervisors, who approve the bills. People would have had to be dropping like flies to run up this kind of expense in the coroner’s office. Hopefully, better financial controls have been put in place for county expense payments.