UPDATE: Key Beef Plant defendant pleads guilty

Robert Moultrie, chairman and chief executive officer of The Facility Group of Smyrna, Ga., entered a plea before Chief Judge Michael P. Mills, admitting he gave $25,000 to an elected “public official” for that person’s good will and future considerations connected to his company work on the beef plant.

Moultrie, two other company executives and their companies were scheduled for a jury trial Aug. 25 in the U.S. District Court in Oxford before Mills.

Moultrie apparently was the only defendant to enter a plea, but insiders say the others could follow in the next few days. Calls to their attorneys were not yet answered.

The men and the companies were indicted in February on 16 federal counts they defrauded the state of Mississippi and others relating to construction of the Yalobusha County facility.

The Monday action saw the government agree to drop its 16 charges against Moultrie for his plea and cooperation. He faces up to 34 months in prison and a fin e of up to $30,000, court documents showed.

In the original indictments, the three men and companies. also are accused of attempting to bribe an elected public official to influence awarding of contracts for the plant, which failed and left the state holding the bag on $55 million in loan guarantees.

Monday, Moultrie agreed to plead guilty to one count of “knowingly and unlawfully rewarding an agent of the government of the State of Mississipppi with a gratuity,” in violation of U.S. law.

NE MS Daily Journal