Artie Fletcher, co-defendant of Kenneth Fairley, pleads guilty in federal court

Artie Fletcher, co-defendant of Kenneth Fairley, pleads guilty in federal court
Artie Fletcher pleads guilty in federal court. Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The co-defendant in a federal trial involving Kenneth Fairley pleaded guilty in federal court Friday morning.

Artie Fletcher, a 56-year-old Picayune resident and New Orleans businessman, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony before District Judge Keith Starrett.

Starrett explained the charge as concealing a federal felony from authorities, knowing a felony was committed, failing to report the crime to authorities and committing some affirmative act to conceal the crime. The maximum sentence for Fletcher's charge is three years in prison and a $250,000 fine with one year of special release and $100 special assessment.

According to court records,

Fletcher did knowingly and willfully fail to report to legal authorities a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, in that the defendant failed to report that another individual known as KF had prepared a false document by forging the initials of the defendant Artie Fletcher for the purpose of submitting the document to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the City of Hattiesburg, knowing that the knowing that the individual known as KF had used the false documents to deceive HUD and thereafter embezzled, stole, purloined, or knowingly concerted to his own use funds set aside by HUD for one or more properties within the city of Hattiesburg.

Fletcher, and Fairley, who is assumed to be KF in the court documents filed Friday morning, were both indicted in March on a multi-count federal indictment related to defrauding the U.S government.

Fletcher, was indicted on three felony counts, including: conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and engaging in a monetary transaction to criminally derive property.

Fletcher waived his rights to a preliminary hearing, probable cause hearing and indictment on Friday, submitting to prosecution by information.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Golden and Fletcher's attorney Clarence Roby of New Orleans also accepted a plea agreement on Friday that states if Fletcher waived an indictment, he would be found guilty of one felony count. Golden also stated the agreement waives the statue of limitation, waives restitution, and the U.S. Attorney recommends sentencing in the lower 50 percent of the guidelines. Both parties also signed a plea supplement in which Fletcher also waives his rights to appeal conviction and sentencing, his right to contest in post conviction and his rights to seek attorneys fees or collateral damage

Fairley faces six counts on the indictment, one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, two counts of theft of government money, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions to criminally derive property.

Golden said the FBI, IRS, HUD, Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering's office were involved in the investigation. He said Fletcher has been compliant with investigators, and Fletcher was allowed to remain free on bail.

Fletcher was expected to stand trial on Tuesday, Sept. 6 with co-defendant Kenneth Fairley, as of Friday morning no motions for a continuance have been filed.

Although Fletcher pleaded guilty, it is unclear if he will be a government witness in Fairley's trial.

Fletcher is set to be sentenced on Dec. 19 at 1:30 pm.