HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A former Forrest County Detention Center supervisor who pleaded guilty in federal court to theft and mail fraud charges in a conspiracy related to the theft of food at the Forrest County jail died Tuesday night.
According to Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict, Allen Haralson, 61, died at Forrest General Hospital Tuesday night. According to Benedict the body is being sent to the Mississippi State Crime Lab in Jackson for a full autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Haralson was employed as the kitchen supervisor at the detention center.
Haralson appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett to enter his plea on November 21, and was scheduled to be sentenced February 5th at 2:15 p.m. Since the time of his guilty plea, Haralson had remained free on bail.
This case stems from an investigation first reported in June when the FBI and state auditor's office requested copies of jail expenses dating back to the early 2000s. Those items were all paid for and approved by the Forrest County Board of Supervisors.
According to the case filed by the United States Attorney, Haralson ordered food and food-related items between 2002 and 2014, along with others "known and unknown to the United States Attorney."
In a previous statement from the U.S. attorney, Haralson "did knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with persons known and unknown to the United States Attorney to commit.. theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and/or mail fraud."
Further details stated that Haralson and others would "conceal the true identity" of what was being ordered through the detention center by "fraudulently listing or causing others to fraudulently list" items for purchase orders. According to the statement, Haralson "would embezzle, steal, obtain by fraud, knowingly convert or intentionally misapply food or food-related items" by transporting them from the detention center to personal residences, including Haralson's, or to "businesses or other entities owned or controlled by or affiliated with Haralson" for personal use.
The food that was allegedly being stolen included "ribs, steak, shrimp, clam strips, and beef brisket."
Since Haralson, another Forrest County Jail employee, Jerry Woodland, 52, has also pleaded guilty Dec. 15th in federal court to a felony count of conspiracy in connection to ordering food items through the jail for personal use. Woodland is free on bail and under pre-trial supervision. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 9th at 10:15 a.m. before Judge Keith Starrett.