By SHELIA BYRD
Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Federal officials are trying to reduce the
prison sentence given to the owner a failed beef plant because he
helped them prosecute others in the scheme that cost Mississippi
millions of dollars.
U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee, in a motion filed Friday in federal
court in Oxford, asked that Richard N. Hall's eight-year prison
term be reduced, but didn't make any recommendation for how much.
Hall was sentenced in 2007 after admitting his role in the
Mississippi Beef Processors LLC debacle. The Tennessee businessman
had convinced the state to invest in the Yalobusha County cattle
processing plant and left taxpayers with a $55 million debt when
the enterprise failed.
Greenlee said in the motion that Hall gave detailed statements
regarding the fraudulent activities of James Draper, a
refrigeration company sales representative, and the Facility Group
of Smyrna, Ga.
The motion said Hall "assisted the government investigators in
understanding construction practices, which significantly aided the
prosecutors in drafting of subpoenas, other requests for documents
and materials and charges."
The Facility Group was responsible for the design and
construction of the beef plant that closed just three months after
it opened in 2004, leaving 400 people out of work.
This week, three executives of the Facility Group pleaded guilty
to charges stemming from the case.
Robert Moultrie and Nixon Cawood Jr. admitted to illegally
contributing to a past campaign for former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.
Charles K. Morehead pleaded guilty Thursday to withholding
information during the federal probe of the beef plant.
Moultrie and Cawood admitted to illegally giving the Democrat
Musgrove a $25,000 "gratuity" during his 2003 gubernatorial
re-election campaign he lost to Republican Haley Barbour. Musgrove,
who is now challenging U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. in November,
has not been charged. Musgrove has said he's done nothing wrong.
A federal jury in Oxford last month convicted Draper of money
laundering and interstate transportation of money obtained by
fraud. He had been accused of keeping money that was intended to
buy equipment for the plant. The motion said Hall's testimony at
Draper's trial played a part in the conviction.