Jury finds Draper guilty of charges in beef plant case

Paul Quinn, a student intern writing from Oxford for the Clarion Ledger, has the story.

A refrigeration company sales representative accused of pocketing funds for equipment at a beef processing plant has been found guilty of charges related to the failed business.

A jury in Oxford this afternoon convicted James Draper of Mount Juliet, Tenn., of money laundering and interstate transportation of money obtained by fraud.

Draper faces up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines on two charges.

It is the first time someone charged in connection with the failed venture in Yalobusha County has gone on trial. Two others, Sean Carothers and Richard Hall Jr., pleaded guilty. The failed plant cost Mississippi taxpayer millions.

Executives with The Facility Group of Georgia, which oversaw and managed construction of the the plant, are scheduled to go on trial in August in Oxford.

Draper testified Tuesday on his own behalf . Hall testified Monday.

Draper was accused of receiving a $187,725 check from the state to purchase equipment for the plant, but items were not purchased. He then gave Hall $167,725 and kept $20,000 for himself, according to the indictment.

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