Miss. prosecutors seek reduced sentence for Hall

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.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)