Longo: ‘I’m Innocent!’

Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo appeared in Hancock Circuit Court Thursday morning as a defendant, but later, Longo and his attorney Donald Rafferty went on the offensive.
Longo waived his arraignment rights and a trial date of June 21 was set for embezzlement charges Longo was indicted for in January.
After the short preceding, Longo and Rafferty stood on front the courthouse steps and said they are planning to fight the charges and the only reason Longo was indicted is because some want to get him out of office.
“It appears that it’s all politically-motivated,” Rafferty said. “It’s character assassination. Frankly, it is people who want to take a shot at the mayor. We do not think the charges should have ever been brought.”
Longo was arrested on January 22, after a Hancock County Grand Jury indicted him on charges that he allegedly used his city-issued Fuelman card for his personal vehicle on numerous occasions from around September 21, 2008 until August 30, 2009.
The total amount Longo allegedly stole from the city was $1,116, State Auditor Stacy Pickering said.
“Although this embezzlement is not a large sum of money, I am committed to holding any government employee accountable to the taxpayers of Mississippi,” Pickering said. “An elected official must be held to the highest standard and using government funds for personal use will not be tolerated.”
Longo said Thursday that he looks forward to telling his side of the story.
“In all my travels around the Gulf Coast area, I have tried to persuade people from using post-Katrina events as political fodder. There have a lot of bricks thrown. I wish they would have thrown the bricks in a positive manner.”
Rafferty said he and Longo wished to have a court date as soon as possible and he was pleased that Judge Larry Bourgeois allowed the trial to be set for June 21.
Rafferty said it is too early to give any statements about the facts of the case, but he has filed a motion to quash the indictment, because it is “vague, ambiguous, and does not specify necessary facts.”
“We are just now getting into the discovery phase and we will learn more about the facts in the near future,” Rafferty said.
Longo said despite the felony indictment he will “positively” be running for mayor again this fall when the municipal elections are held.
Qualification for the city elections begins in August.

BY Dwayne Bremer

The Sea Coast Echo

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