Former education head, contractors accused of fudging bids

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Locked doors and a notice regarding COVID-19, greeted reporters at the Mississippi Department of Education offices in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, March 19, 2020.

AP

A former top official at the Mississippi Department of Education and three contractors who worked with the agency are being accused by the federal government of stealing thousands of dollars from the state of Mississippi by manipulating the bidding process for contracts and inflating costs.

The government alleges that, while acting as executive director of the Office of Educator Quality in the Department of Education from 2013 to 2016, Cerissa Renfroe Neal stole $42,000 from the state and granted contractors she conspired with more than $650,000 in state contracts, including federal funds the U.S. Department of Education granted to Mississippi.

Neal, 45, of Madison County, was charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery, U.S. Attorney

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