Madison and Rankin Counties’ District Attorney Michael Guest announced today that Steven Brooks Russell of Hinds County received a 20-year prison sentence for embezzlement. A jury convicted Russell of Embezzlement in an amount greater than $25,000.
On February 7, 2017, Detective Lee Drake of the Richland Police Department was contacted by members of KLLM management, who reported a possible theft by Russell, one of KLLM’s long time trusted employees. Russell worked in dispatch, scheduling repairs of tractors and trailers for long haul KLLM truck drivers.
An unscheduled internal audit revealed that multiple Comchecks were being cashed at the Pilot Truck Stop on Gallatin Street in Jackson. KLLM records revealed these repair orders were for tractor and trailer repairs allegedly conducted all over the country. Despite the vendors being located throughout the United States, all the payments were cashed locally, thereby triggering automatic review. Each of these repair transactions were also opened and closed by Russell.
On February 8, 2017, KLLM informed Detective Drake that Russell had opened, closed, and issued a Comcheck shortly before lunch. Detective Drake went to the Pilot on Gallatin and found Russell’s vehicle. Upon entering the truck stop Drake saw Russell in the process of cashing a Comcheck. Drake videotaped Russell cashing a Comcheck and receiving the money.
Drake stopped Russell and found the receipt and money from the Comcheck in question. Drake located a post-it note with the Comcheck code in the Defendant’s pocket and additional blank Comchecks in the Defendant’s pocket.
Drake interviewed Russell who claimed he was acting as a middle man, cashing Comchecks for other drivers. During the 30-minutes interview, Russell made several statements that Drake began refuting. Russell ultimately invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
Assistant District Attorneys Dewey Arthur and Al Jernigan tried the case. At trial they introduced documents, including work orders, repair orders, Comchecks, and Comcheck receipts showing more than one hundred ninety thousand dollars ($190,000.00) was stolen by Russell.
During sentencing, Dewey Arthur presented evidence that Russell had been previously convicted for embezzling fifty thousand dollars. A Hinds County judge gave Russell a suspended sentence in 1998. Based on the facts of the case, the large loss to KLLM, and the prior embezzlement, Judge William E. Chapman sentenced Russell to the maximum penalty, 20 years to serve in the penitentiary.
Assistant District Attorney Dewey Arthur argued, “the maximum sentence is required to send the message to other criminals that businesses can operate safely in Rankin and Madison Counties. Russell failed to change his conduct after being given a second chance following his conviction in Hinds County and now he should be held accountable for his continued criminal behavior.”
Guest concluded, “I cannot thank Richland Detective Lee Drake, Dewey Arthur, and Al Jernigan enough for their hard work in bringing to justice a defendant who has stolen almost $250,000.00 from businesses in Hinds and Rankin County. While any business or organization can be the victim of theft it is important to hold accountable those who would steal from others. ”
District Attorney Michael Guest was sworn into office in January 2008 and represents the Twentieth Judicial District, Madison and Rankin Counties. For more information regarding the District Attorney’s office, please visit www.daguest.comy
Name: Steven Brooks Russell
Address: 121 Tracewood Cove, Clinton, MS 39056
Date of Birth: March 30, 1964