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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Mississippi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hattiesburg Businessmen Indicted for Fraud Relating to Government Housing Contract

 

Hattiesburg, Miss – Kenneth Fairley, 62, of Hattiesburg, and Artie Fletcher, 55, of Picayune, have been charged in a federal indictment with a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jerome R. McDuffie, HUD Special Agent in Charge Nadine Gurley, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Donald Always and Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering.

Fairley and Fletcher are charged with devising a scheme to defraud HUD in connection with a government contract issued to the City of Hattiesburg for the rehabilitation of three residential properties located within the city limits. The project was supported by federal funding and was executed through sub-contracted work to be completed by Pinebelt Community Services, a local non-profit operated by Fairley. The indictment alleges that Fairley conspired with Fletcher to fraudulently perform the work for a lesser amount than represented on the HUD contract, with the difference in the bid and actual costs being transferred to Fairley, through Fletcher, for purposes not intended by the government contract.

The indictment charges Fairley with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of theft of government money, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity.

Fletcher is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in property derived from unlawful activity.

"When the federal government provides resources to local cities and county governments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be vigilant in vindicating the interests of the taxpayers when federal and state law enforcement agencies determine that the funds have been stolen or misused," said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis.

IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jerome R. McDuffie, stated: "While the indictment is merely an allegation with respect to the charges of money laundering violations and conspiracy to commit money laundering, IRS -CI takes the investigation of all crimes related to the misuse of taxpayer dollars very seriously. Our special agents will pursue the charges alleged against Mr. Fairley and Mr. Fletcher until the ends of Justice are served in this matter."

"Schemes that defraud the government are akin to stealing from American taxpayers", said Donald Alway, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi. "We take that very seriously. The FBI is committed to tracking and shutting down fraud schemes like the one alleged in the indictment. I also want to thank our law enforcement partners for their dedicated work in this case."

"I want to thank the Federal and State investigators who worked together on this case," said Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering. "They are the unsung heroes who work to protect the taxpayers."

Fairley and Fletcher were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker in Hattiesburg today. They are scheduled for trial before U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett on April 18, 2016.

The maximum penalties for the crimes charged in the indictment are as follows: Conspiracy to defraud the U.S. - 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; Theft of government money – 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; Conspiracy to commit money laundering - 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction; Engaging in monetary transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity - 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine or twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, IRS – Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office.

The public is reminded that an indictment is a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated March 24, 2016