WASHINGTON -- The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday charged an underwriting firm and official and a bond lawyer in Jackson, Miss., with fraud in connection with seven low-income housing issues totaling $20 million that were sold by two Mississippi counties in 1992 and 1993.

The underwriter, Thorn, Alvis, Welch Inc.; its president, John E. Thorn Jr.; and bond lawyer Derryl W. Peden with Stennett Wilkinson & Pedenwere charged with funneling a total of more than $1 million in bond proceeds to a developer, which then kicked back the money as "contributions" to help finance the purchase and rehabilitation of low-income housing projects.

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