ATLANTA - A former aide to Mississippi's treasurer has begun serving a four-year state prison term after being convicted of embezzling $238,000 of bearer bonds.

Michael G. Howell, the director of the state Treasury's bond division between 1986 and 1990, reported to a detention center in Hinds County, Miss., on Aug. 4 to begin his sentence, a spokeswoman for the county's circuit court said Friday. The spokeswoman said that on July 21 Judge L. Breland Hilburn handed down a 10-year prison term that suspended six years of the sentence, reducing the maximum time to be served to four years. Upon his release, she said, Mr. Howell will be on probation for three years.

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