HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The grand jury returned an indictment on another person along with Rev. Kenneth Fairley.
Artie Fletcher is a Picayune resident who owns properties across Mississippi and Louisiana.
The indictment details Fletcher's connection to charges defrauding the United States government linked to the Housing and Urban Development agency.
"They would get a bid, quote on quote…from a legitimate contractor, this is part of the role that Fletcher played in this scheme… and they would use other workers to do the work that were not actually contracted in order to cut the cost so they could have more money to share in the administrative costs or to pocket or ever what they were doing," Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering said.
The 55-year-old is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit money laundering and engaging monetary transaction in property derived from unlawful activity.
"There were multiple layers of fraud, disingenuous reporting, false reporting that took place, six count indictment just here, there is a very good likelihood that we could see these numbers actually grow," Pickering said.
Fletcher strolled out of the William M. Colmer Federal Building in Hattiesburg Wednesday with his attorney, Clarence Roby Jr. after having a $25,000 unsecured bond set by Magistrate Michael T. Parker.
According to the indictment, Fletcher is the owner of Interurban Development, which has been in business for seven years, and is a for-profit development organization based in New Orleans that repairs properties under Housing and Urban Development grants.
"As far as locally, you're looking at other individuals that may have been part of this scheme or are the peripherals of it taking advantage of it that personally enriched themselves that should be held accountable," Pickering said.
The indictment detailed houses located in Hattiesburg and Itemized lists of repair costs submitted to HUD by Pine Belt for each property revealed that $24,432.95 was spent on labor and materials for 127 E. 5th Street and $13,373.31 was spent on 202 South Street.
According to court documents, Fairley and Fletcher pocketed around $120,000.
"You do know that there are some other individuals that we may not have the evidence and the facts on beyond a shadow of a doubt at this point in time, but there's likelihood that we could. Those are some known individuals, and in cases of this nature, where you're dealing with so many falsified documents, moving pieces, different companies, there could be and individual or two that we may or may not know actually existed as part of this scheme at this time," Pickering said.
The penalties of the charges carry the following:
- Conspiracy to defraud the U.S. – five five 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 a $250,000 fine or twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction.
"Rev. Fairley, Artie Fletcher will have their day in court, but I'm confident the facts of that we've put forth before the grand jury will be upheld," Pickering said. "We're looking at mandatory jail time, I think, in both cases. I don't think it's a question of are they going to jail. The question will be on how many counts and how long."
WDAM 7 News reached out to Fletcher's attorney, who had no comment.
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