Former Executive Director of Mississippi Department of Human Services Pleads Guilty for Conspiring to Defraud the State of Mississippi
Jackson, Miss. – Frank Saddler, 52, of Ridgeland, Mississippi, pled guilty today, before United States District Judge Henry T. Wingate, to extortion under color of official right, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze, and Dax Roberson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General - Southwest Regional Office.
Saddler was a Branch Director with the Mississippi Department of Human Services (“MDHS”), which has oversight of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) of the United States Department of Agriculture in Mississippi. Saddler’s duties included investigating violations of the SNAP regulations and pursuing criminal charges against violators.
In entering his guilty plea, Saddler admitted that he extorted money from convenience store owners who had been charged with criminal violations relating to SNAP in exchange for not pursuing the criminal charges against them. Saddler told the store owners that they were paying restitution to the State of Mississippi when in fact they made payments to Saddler which he deposited into his personal bank account.
“Public corruption erodes confidence in our democracy. This defendant put his own greed above the interests of the people he was entrusted to serve. This type of abuse of power will continue to be doggedly investigated and prosecuted by this office. Credit belongs to the FBI and USDA agents and our prosecutors who brought this criminal to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst.
“I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Office of Inspector General Special Agents, and our law enforcement partners for their hard work on this investigation. The Office of Inspector General is committed to protecting the integrity of United States Department of Agriculture programs,” said USDA OIG Special Agent in Charge Dax Roberson.
Saddler will be sentenced before Judge Wingate on April 16, 2019. He faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and supervised release of up to three years.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Agriculture. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dave Fulcher.