October 18, 2021

Arrests made in Itawamba Community College Fraud Investigation

Mary Apel

Joe Lowder (L) and Eureda “Edie” Washington (R)(State Auditor's Office)

Investigators with the State Auditor’s Office have arrested a former Itawamba Community College administrator, charging him with fraud involving public money meant for job skills training.

Joseph Lowder, a former dean of economic and community services with ICC, was arrested on Monday, according to a statement from the Auditor’s office. Also arrested was Eureda “Edie” Washington, associated with furniture manufacturing company Chapter Three Inc.

Both individuals have been indicted on fraud charges stemming from an investigation by State Auditor Shad White.

Washington is charged over allegations that she obtained over $680,000 for a private company from the state-funded Workforce Enhancement Training program meant to provide job training to private businesses through community colleges. The auditor’s office says that Washington had previous experience applying for WET program money, as it’s typically called, and that she was paid a cut of the company’s award from the program.

Lowder faces charges involving claimed that he produces fraudulent documents to hide a double-billing scheme involving nearly $10,000, according to the auditor.

Both Washington and Lowder have been issued demands to repay the money, as well as investigative costs.

Jennifer and David Schock — owners of the Chapter Three furniture company — have also been issued repayment demands by the auditor, but they have not been criminally charged.

ICC leadership strongly denied this, adding that the educational institution has fully cooperated with the auditor’s office during the course of its investigation.

The college has also retained former United States Attorney Mike Hurst, of the Phelps Dunbar law firm, to conduct an internal investigation in the auditor’s allegations.

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