The former police chief of a north Mississippi town that receives a large percentage of its income from fines and forfeitures was arrested Wednesday on charges of embezzlement.

The state auditor’s office announced Wednesday that its agents arrested the former police chief of Walls, Herb Brewer for embezzlement.

Brewer was indicted by a grand jury convened by DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion.

Brewer was accused of embezzling $1,850 by selling vehicles seized by the police department and pocketing the proceeds. According to the auditor’s office, he allegedly sold a Ford Mustang and a Chevrolet Tahoe to members of his own family. 

He was issued a demand letter for $6,943 at the time of his arrest, which includes interest and investigative costs. Investigators found that Brewer sold the vehicles for less than they were worth and this was also added to the demand letter.

If convicted, he faces $5,000 in fines and a five-year prison sentence.

Walls is a town of (1,379 population) in Desoto County and was ranked first in a recent study by Governing magazine which rank cities and towns nationwide on the amount of their budgets coming from fines and forfeitures. 

An analysis of data from the Mississippi Center for Public Policy found that the town ranked second to State Line in terms of per capita income from fines and forfeitures.

Walls ranked second with 26.53 percent of its general fund budget from fines and forfeitures in 2017. It was 19.5 percent for all revenues, including the utility fund. 

Except for one outlier in 2006, when fines and forfeitures made up 19.32 percent of the city’s budget, the percentage of city revenues dependent on fines and forfeitures was in single digits. 

In 2013, the percentage of the city’s revenues ($941,915) sourced from fines and forfeitures ($152,788) crossed the 15 percent threshold and hasn’t gone lower since.  

Fines and forfeitures in Walls, Mississippi 

YearTotal revenueFines and forfeitures% of total revenues
2006 $             321,273  $                 62,058 19.32%
2007 $             567,846  $                 45,207 7.96%
2008 $             716,032  $                 34,056 4.76%
2009 $             591,224  $                 24,676 4.17%
2010 $             611,919  $                 19,036 3.11%
2011 $             674,900  $                 30,589 4.53%
2012 $             867,161  $                 67,301 7.76%
2013 $             941,915  $               152,788 16.22%
2014 $         1,071,620  $               234,113 21.85%
2015 $         1,082,216  $               186,136 17.20%
2017 $         1,220,332  $               238,476 19.54%