HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The lawyer for a Hattiesburg reverend is speaking out after a federal grand jury handed down a six-count indictment against his client.
Sanford Knott is a Jackson lawyer representing Rev. Kenneth Fairley after an indictment accused the pastor of conspiring to defraud the United States government.
"To return an indictment today is really is unfortunate and it's insulting as well," Sanford said. "Reverend Fairley has been a pastor for a long time. He's not a criminal whatsoever."
Knott said this was the first time he has seen the indictment because the documents were previously sealed. According to Knott, the indictment is multi-layered, but he has his own documents that will prove Fairley's innocence.
"There are some documents that the prosecution has that we have not seen, but we have documents as well that show the good faith efforts that Mr. Fairley has done and made in the community," Knott said.
According to Knott, Fairley has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.
"Whether or not there were documents that were not in place in no way shape or form resulted in any fraudulent activity of Mr. Fairley," Knott said. "He's not guilty at all. He's innocent of these charges."
As to whether or not Fairley will try to reach a deal, Knott said his client will tell the truth and is fully cooperating. Knott also said he could not speak to Artie Fletcher's charges or involvement because he was not representing him.
The Department of Justice issued a statement regarding the federal indictments against Fairley and Fletcher, and also listed the maximum penalties for the crimes charged in the indictment.
Fairley could face:
- Conspiracy to defraud the U.S. - 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; Theft of government money – 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine
- Conspiracy to commit money laundering - 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction
- Engaging in monetary transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity - 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine or twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction.