Defense, Government rest in Fairley trial; closing arguments set for Monday

Defense, Government rest in Fairley trial; closing arguments set for Monday
Rev. Kenneth Fairley. Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The federal trial for Hub City pastor Kenneth Fairley entered day five, and the defense rested after calling their tenth and final witness, and with one rebuttal witness, the government rested their case as well.

Recalled Witness:

Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, the defense recalled Gabe Bobbett, a Mt. Carmel church member, and maintenance worker, whose boss is Kenneth Fairley.

Bobbett testified that he would spend sometimes seven days a week at the 127 East 5th Street and 202 South Street homes doing work, but he never submitted any invoices for gas, meals or anything for himself or other workers.

Bobbett was questioned about materials that were used during the construction process, as well as about roofing shingles that he said were already in Fairley's organization, Pinebelt Community Services (Pinebelt) warehouse, located at 400 Jackson Street.

During cross examination, he was questioned about documents that "he didn't speak of yesterday but suddenly remembered today."

There has also been multiple attempts by the defense to show a "difference/separation" from Pinebelt and Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, however during testimony, Bobbett slipped and said they are the same thing, eventually trying to correct himself.

He was questioned about the codes that the homes were built to, and asked if they were livable and up to proper code.

Bobbett was tripped up during his testimony a few times, ultimately swiveling side to side during his chair and shifting his weight while being questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abe McGlothin.

Bobbett was questioned about a business, "Anointed Hands Services" that was started and located at the house on 202 South Street, by his wife, Sharon Fairley Bobbett.

He said that happened in 2003, and she lived there before they were ever married, but that she was not there nor was the business when the construction occurred.

McGlothin questioned Bobbett, because the Mississippi Secretary of State's Office shows Sharon's signature on the business forms as of June 15, 2011, during the target time of the HUD investigation.

Another form was dated July 13, 2012; he was questioned about that, to which he said wasn't correct.

"So the document submitted to the state is incorrect?" McGlothin asked.

Bobbett was also questioned if his wife was any relation to Fairley, or was he related to Fairley, to which he replied no, he's my pastor.

Eighth Witness:

The defenses eighth witness called to the stand was Clarence Williams, who is currently a community developer that deals with block grants for the city of Hattiesburg.

Williams said that he was a "consultant" for Pinebelt staring in July 2010 and stopped getting paid by Pinebelt at some point during 2011, even though during that time frame he went to work for the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.

Williams testified about the meeting between Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials and members of Pinebelt, saying that the HUD officials were rude and demanding.

He also testified about documents that were signed by co-defendant Artie Fletcher, stating facts on behalf of former city of Hattiesburg employee Franklin Tate who has since passed away.

Williams said that he prepared the forms to be submitted to the city but he wasn't aware how the work was done or the aspects of the work.

Eight Witness Impeachment:

During cross examination, the government attempted to impeach Williams, questioning him of his past and his previous "run-ins" with HUD, to which he said he had none.

However, documents the government produced said otherwise, showing that in May 2010, Williams resigned from his job in Anniston, Alabama.

"I was a contract employee, and there were some improprieties," Williams said. "There never was a problem with HUD, only with the city of Anniston."

That issued revolved around what Williams claims was one of his employees that benefited from a home project and was paid $350,000 through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), which is funded by HUD.

Ninth Witness:

The defense decided to call Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree to the stand as their ninth witness.

DuPree testified about the long relationship that he has had with Fairley, going all the way back to the seventh grade.

DuPree said he once worked at Sears, as well as owned his own business, Johnny DuPree Reality and that he was still a licensed broker.

He said at one point in their lives, they made an agreement to work to improve the quality of life for people living in Hattiesburg.

DuPree also said that when he took over in 2001 as mayor, that there was an existing relationship with HUD and the city, but it was not a good relationship and some work had to be done.

He said he had never heard of any money being stolen by Fairley, but he first heard about it when te indictment came out in March.

He was questioned about integrity, to which he replied, "My name is all I have."

On cross examination, DuPree was questioned about Fairley being his campaign director.

"I don't think you can do something ethical if it's illegal" DuPree said.

DuPree testified about the home at 127 East 5th Street that he once owned, and then sold to Mt. Carmel.

"It's been 10, 11 years ago, maybe 9 since I last paid mortgage or taxes on that property," DuPree said.

Tenth Witness:

The tenth witness to take the stand on behalf of the defense was Rinamae Anderson, the current resident of 202 South Street.

She said she moved in to the house in 2011, and that Pinebelt provided her things like a washer and dryer.

Anderson said she wanted to own the home entirely, but currently she is still renting.

"I love the house, its big, its roomy," Anderson said.

Anderson works for the wife of previous witness Gabe Bobbett, at "Anointed Hands Services," which currently says is located at that home address.

Defense Rests:

The defense rested their case at 1:42 p.m. after their tenth witness finished testifying.

Government to rebuttal:

The government called the HUD Director of Community Planning and Development, Donnetta McAdoo as their rebuttal witness.

She testified about the contracts between the city of Hattiesburg, HUD and Pinebelt, and what is actually classified as HUD money.

"That money is federal government money, its tax payer money," McAdoo said. "It's still considered federal government money."

McAdoo addressed the meeting that she was present in with Fairley at Pinebelt, where her and another HUD official were not able to obtain any documents from home projects.

"I told Mr. Fairley that all HUD rules must be followed," McAdoo said.

She testified about how angry that Franklin Tate was after the meeting and how the city had not given any information on what to do.

During that week, McAdoo drove past the 127 East 5th Street home.

"I was disappointed, dismayed, and annoyed at what I saw," McAdoo said. "The house didn't have $53,000 worth of any ones money in it."

She testified about money that was owed as well as to a letter that the government has called their "most important" document, which was a letter stated that the documentation at 127 East 5th Street was sufficient.

McAdoo said that letter had nothing to do with funding, that it had to do with property standard documents, nothing to do with the $53,319 that is mentioned being paid back via the city or the standards of things being sufficient.

Email correspondence between McAdoo and other HUD officials was questioned as well during cross examination, with the defense continuing to refer back to their "most important" document.

Government rests:

The government rested their case at 3:18 p.m. after their only rebuttal witness.

Trial to resume Monday:

District Judge Keith Starrett dismissed the jury for the day and kept the attorneys in his conference room to go over jury instructions so they could be presented Monday after the closing arguments, which will start at 9 a.m.