HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The Latest on a Hattiesburg corruption trial (all times local):
A financial analyst for a federal agency says that when she visited one of the two homes at the center of corruption allegations against a Hattiesburg pastor, it appeared no work had been done a year after money was disbursed.
Cassandra Davis of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development testified Wednesday in a criminal case against the Rev. Kenneth Fairley. He’s accused of skimming money from a federally funded program to rehabilitate two houses.
Davis said she attended a June 2012 meeting at Fairley’s Mount Carmel Baptist Church where he said he had no documents. Later, Davis said she received a “minimally acceptable” packet by email.
A former housing inspector for the City of Hattiesburg says Mayor Johnny DuPree pressured him to approve a house built by a group led by a man on trial for stealing federal funds.
Randy Jordan testified Wednesday that he felt intimidated after a meeting with Dupree over an earlier house built by the nonprofit group Pinebelt Community Services, which is led by the Rev. Kenneth Fairley.
Fairley, of Hattiesburg, is on trial for skimming federal money from a project to rehabilitate two houses.
Jordan said most work was not completed on one of the houses in question even after Fairley’s group was paid. He says the house did not pass a final inspection until 2014 — three years after Fairley’s group asked to be paid for the work.
DuPree was present in the courtroom earlier Wednesday but not when Jordan testified.
A retired federal employee says he began raising alarms about a housing rehabilitation project in Hattiesburg because of skimpy documentation.
Frank Mason testified Wednesday in the trial of the Rev. Kenneth Fairley, accused of skimming federal money for the rehabilitation of two houses in a city-administered project. Fairley and Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree are political allies.
Mason says he wanted to force Hattiesburg to repay money and contacted a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development criminal investigator.
HUD officials eventually ruled they had enough documents and didn’t demand repayment. Defense lawyer Arnold Spencer points to that letter, saying it clears Fairley.
Mason, though, says the letter doesn’t prove the houses were properly rebuilt.
Mason says he also had concerns because it appeared city officials were preventing him from speaking to a building inspector.
Lawyers for a Hattiesburg pastor are again asking a judge to throw out federal theft charges, saying prosecutors are failing to disclose evidence that might exonerate the pastor.
Arnold Spencer, a lawyer for the Rev. Kenneth Fairley, told U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett on Wednesday that prosecutors had given the defense copies of hundreds of pages of documents Tuesday night after trial began.
Fairley is a political ally of Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree. Fairley is accused of skimming money from a housing rehabilitation project.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Golden says prosecutors only received the documents Monday from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development official.
Spencer earlier asked Starrett to throw out the charges, alleging prosecutorial misconduct in failing to disclose documents. Starrett did not immediately rule on the renewed request as Fairley’s trial continues.
Testimony resumes Wednesday in the trial of a Hattiesburg pastor accused of skimming money from a federal housing program.
The Rev. Kenneth Fairley, a political ally of Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, faces federal charges accusing him of conspiracy and theft of government money. Prosecutors dismissed three money laundering charges.
On Tuesday, a jury was selected and both sides gave opening statements. Former Hattiesburg city employee Andrew Ellard, who oversaw federal grants for the city, began testifying and is scheduled to continue Wednesday.
Picayune developer Artie Fletcher had also been indicted, but pleaded guilty Friday to failing to report a felony, a lesser charge.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., asked the Justice Department to review the prosecution of Fairley, alleging he and others were targeted after DuPree won Hattiesburg’s contested 2013 election.