Meredith exonerated, Watson pays fine

Mississippi State Interim President Vance Watson has paid $12,333 to the State Auditor's Clearing Account, and those funds will soon be sent to Mississippi State University.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering demanded the money for landscaping work performed in 2007 on property belonging to Higher Learning Commissioner Tom Meredith, who has been cleared of charges.

Pickering said his office's investigation revealed the work was done after a request from Meredith and involved Mississippi State equipment, personnel and materials. He added the university must be reimbursed for the cost of the project.

Meredith issued a statement saying, "I am pleased this incident has concluded and that I've been exonerated by the State Auditor's office."

The $12,333 represents both the amount spent in the landscaping operation as well as legal fees.

Watson's case will now go before the district attorney's office.