Longo to enter plea this week

Two cases of alleged abuse of public trust go to Circuit Court Thursday when the mayor of Waveland and a former official of the Bay-Waveland School District are scheduled for arraignment on embezzlement charges.

Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo and Linda Gavagnie are both scheduled to enter pleas at the Hancock County Courthouse on Main Street in Bay St. Louis. Court begins at 9 a.m.

A third suspect, Hope Juanita Fitzhugh, of Lakeshore, is also scheduled for court tomorrow on charges that she stabbed her husband to death last year.

Although Longo and Gavagnie both face embezzlement charges after being indicted by a Hancock County Grand Jury, their cases are unrelated.

Longo, 51, was arrested in January. He has served as mayor of Waveland since 1998, and is charged with using a city-issued gasoline charge card to buy fuel valued at $1,116 for his personal vehicle.

An investigation by the state auditor’s office concluded that Longo had illegally used his city Fuelman card between Sept. 1, 2008 and Aug. 30, 2009. Longo is up for re-election later this year.

He has been free on $10,000 bond since his arrest. If convicted of embezzlement, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a possible fine as high as $10,000.

Linda Gavagnie, 55, of Bay St. Louis, was also indicted by the grand jury in January, and has been free on $10,000 bond. She is alleged to have embezzled more than $22,000 while employed as finance manager of the Bay-Waveland School District.

She had resigned from that position in September 2007, and faces the same possible maximum penalty as Longo.

Hope Fitzhugh is charged with stabbing her husband to death on March 12, 2009 during a domestic dispute. She was 39 at the time. Deputies responding to a disturbance call found the body of Gregory A. Fitzhugh, 37, at the couple’s home on Lakeshore Road. He had died of a stab wound to the chest.

The couple’s two small children were taken into custody by youth services officials when their mother was arrested. They later went to live with a family member out of state.

Hope Fitzhugh has remained in jail under $1 million bond since being arrested immediately after the killing.

BY J.R. Welsh

The Sea Coast Echo

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