Beef Plant defendants Nixon Cawood and Charles Morehead, executives with The Facility Group of Georgia, are expected to change their pleas to guilty on a one-count information – Cawood today and Morehead on Thursday.

So say two filings late Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Mississippi.

The hearings are set before Chief Judge Michael P. Mills.

Cawood’s is scheduled for 10 a.m. today and Morehead’s at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Oxford federal courthouse.

An information is a legal charge short of an indictment, which comes from a grand jury.

No other details were available Tuesday, but the two men could follow their TFG colleague Robert Moultrie, who also pleaded guilty Monday to a one-count information.

Moultrie admitted he and Cawood agreed to pay then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove another $25,000 campaign contribution – on top of an earlier $20,000 – to ensure goodwill should they need his help later on about the beef plant.

The government terms the contribution an illegal “gratuity,” not a bribe.

In Moultrie’s plea deal, the government agreed to dismiss all those charges against him and the companies, in exchange for this new guilty plea and his cooperation in their continuing investigations.

Hiram Eastland, a Greenwood attorney, calls this “prosecutorial over-reaching,” when there’s no proven payoff for the contribution.

Eastland is helping former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman appeal his federal conviction that he accepted a donation from a contributor interested in his support for education reform.

“If you can accuse somebody when it involves campaign contributions or fundraising, then they better build more federal prisons,” Eastland said Tuesday.

“You could practically indict every U.S. ambassador.”

Ambassadors often come from presidential candidates’ top contributors.

In the Moultrie case, his attorney Thomas Freeland IV of Oxford insisted Monday his client’s dealings were not about a payoff, or “quid pro quo” as it’s termed legally.
NE MS Daily Journal
8/13/8