US

Alabama county where indicted revenue commissioner quit could be out $400 - or millions

Marshall County Revenue Commissioner Joey Masters is pictured in this undated Huntsville Times photo. The criminal charge against Masters is serious, but hardly jaw-dropping: He’s accused on a single misdemeanor count of taking a few hundred dollars from a petty cash fund in his office. But a separate civil lawsuit contends that the allegations are but a pin prick in a massive scandal that cost the north Alabama county of 95,000 people nearly as much as its entire annual budget of nearly $23 million. A taxpayer lawsuit working its way through the courts says Masters purposely decreased the values of hundreds of pieces of property to reduce the tax bills of friends, political allies, relatives and influential citizens while serving as revenue commissioner. (AP Photo/The Huntsville Times)

Marshall County Revenue Commissioner Joey Masters is pictured in this undated Huntsville Times photo. The criminal charge against Masters is serious, but hardly jaw-dropping: He’s accused on a single misdemeanor count of taking a few hundred dollars from a petty cash fund in his office. But a separate civil lawsuit contends that the allegations are but a pin prick in a massive scandal that cost the north Alabama county of 95,000 people nearly as much as its entire annual budget of nearly $23 million. A taxpayer lawsuit working its way through the courts says Masters purposely decreased the values of hundreds of pieces of property to reduce the tax bills of friends, political allies, relatives and influential citizens while serving as revenue commissioner. (AP Photo/The Huntsville Times)  (The Associated Press)

An Alabama county faces a financial mystery.

The criminal charge against former Marshall County Revenue Commissioner Joey Masters is serious, but hardly jaw-dropping. He's accused on a misdemeanor count of taking a few hundred dollars from a petty cash fund.

But a civil lawsuit contends the allegations are but a pin prick in a scandal that cost the county nearly as much as its annual budget of nearly $23 million.

Masters' lawyer denies the lawsuit's claims, and the county commission chairman says the allegations are far-fetched. He says Marshall County is in good shape financially.

A state audit released last year does say there were some $17 million in assessment errors in Marshall County, and all the money wasn't made up.

The criminal charge and civil lawsuit are still pending.