Breaking – Moultrie Pleads Guilty to Illegal Gratituity to Musgrove (Updated)

H/T to Yallpolitiics. Here is the plea and here are the facts. Alan Lange is 100% right, Musgrove is in the crosshairs. Check this out excerpt from the factual basis:

Between May and July, 2003, Robert Moultrie, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Facility Group, began planning a fund raiser for the public official, then Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove, at his residence in Atlanta, Georgia, in order to obtain his good will. Moultrie and Nick Cawood, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Facility Group, invited several FCMI employees to attend the fund raiser and donate $1,000 each. Cawood told the employees that they would be reimbursed for these contributions through bonuses to their salaries. The fund raiser was held on July 23, 2003 and raised approximately $50,000 for Musgrove’s campaign. Subsequently, the company reimbursed their employees.

In July, 2003, Moultrie caused to be created The Facility Group Political Action Committee. In August, 2003, to complete the amount contemplated in the.July fund raiser, Moultrie caused the PAC to issue a $20,000 check to Musgrove’s campaign. However, in September, 2003, Musgrove contacted Moultrie for another campaign contribution of $25,000. At the time, The Facility Group was aware of potential problems in the design and construction of the plant. Moultrie and Cawood subsequently had a conversation about giving this contribution to Musgrove intending to influence and reward him for the performance of his official duties should his assistance be needed on any potential problems on the project. On or about September 30, 2003, Moultrie caused the PAC to issue another check for $25,000 to the campaign of the public official.

Update

The Clarion Ledger now has this breaking news story up at their website. Student-journalist Paul Quinn has the report:

A Georgia businessman charged in connection with the beef plant debacle that cost Mississippi taxpayers millions of dollars pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to corruptly influence a public official.

Robert Moultrie, chairman and chief executive of the Facility Group of Smyrna, Ga., admitted that he gave $25,000 in campaign contributions to the re-election campaign of then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

Moultrie is set to be sentenced in 45 to 60 days before U.S. Judge Mike Mills.

Musgrove has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

When asked in March about the contributions, Musgrove through campaign manager Amanda Crumley told The Associated Press that he had “nothing to do with the awarding of any of the contracts related to the beef processing plant and at no time did anyone try to influence him regarding the awarding of such contracts.”

“If anyone defrauded the taxpayers of the state of Mississippi, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

Moultrie’s plea comes with less than three months left in Musgrove’s U.S. Senate bid. He faces Republican Roger Wicker in November to determine who will fill the rest of a six-year term vacated by Trent Lott.

Faulty equipment and lack of operating funds shut the 140,000-square-foot plant in 2004, just three months after it opened. Nearly 400 people were left without jobs. Mississippi taxpayers were stuck with $55 million in a state-backed loan and other expenses.

Sean Carothers, whose company built the beef plant, pleaded guilty in 2007 to paying kickbacks to the owner and was sentenced to 21 months in prison.

He apparently had been prepared to testify against Moultrie and others who are still set for trial later this month.

Moultrie and two other Georgia businessmen were charged in a 16-count indictment, including one count of conspiracy to corruptly influence a public official and 15 counts of mail fraud. Charles Morehead, 57, of Lilburn and Nixon Cawood, 58, of Woodstock are set to be tried on Aug. 25

21 thoughts on “Breaking – Moultrie Pleads Guilty to Illegal Gratituity to Musgrove (Updated)”

  1. Wow. I’m sort of speachless at the moment – thanks Sop/Nowdy for your efforts with this.
    (I wonder if there’s an unsealed indictment somewhere in Oxford?)

  2. Welcome HD, can’t say that I’m speechless – breathless maybe at the pace of today. Plus my computer “took a notion” while I was checking Pacer and just now is letting me work. Nothing like starting a game of catch up at 7:30 at night.

    I need to read all of this before commenting. Have you heard there is an unsealed indictment in Oxford?

  3. Citizen, Sop will be checking in a little later and as you can see in my reply to HD, I’m a little behind. If he doesn’t get in before I catch up, I’ll get back to you.

  4. Nowdy/Sop,
    I went back on my word that I wouldn’t post anymore about the Beef Plant…but due to Y’all Politics and Slabbed, I had to give you two props.

    Nowdy – buzz me sometime when you get time (I think I sent you my contact info. Anytime tomorrow works for me. Otherwise, email me tomorrow morning and we’ll chat.

    To answer your question though, no – I haven’t gotten any confirmation of anything sealed. But I expect some sort of press release/comment from the Musgrove camp tomorrow…

    One more H/T to Sop, Nowdy and Alan Lange! Drinks are on me.

  5. Citizen as the story states the other two defendants are still scheduled to go to trial on the 25th. Look for guilty pleas from them too.

    I’d like all our readers to pay very close attention to the plea and factual basis. The crime Mr Moultrie admitted does not necessarily implicate Musgrove as taking a bribe.

    OTOH what is the lesson for anyone with money to burn? Mr Moultrie gave Musgrove big money, big enough money that Musgrove thought he could call for even more when he needed it. And then he put his former benefactor overboard first chance he got.

    Again you wonder what kind of kool aid the State Dems were drinking when they rallied behind Musgrove for Senate? With “political enemies” like that Roger Wicker doesn’t need many friends……

    Thanks H/D.

    sop

  6. Citizen, I’m here reading the “factual basis” and other documents before making unfounded comments. You should do the same. Frankly, I’m awaiting Nowdy’s anaylsis. I respect SOP’s opinions and have confidence in his knowldege and anaytical ability, but think that Nowdy may be more objective in this case because of the Musgrove factor.

  7. Well, Mktgpro, I appreciate that but, frankly, my analysis isn’t much to wait for. I’ve got to ask why you think I’ll be more objective because of the Musgrove factor. Clue me in and I’ll give you my take for what it’s worth.

  8. I get the distinct feeling that SOP is more intense in his dislike of Musgrove than you and I. The entire beef plant fiasco transcends political campaigns and contributions. It started as a major policy blunder that was compounded by the choice of Richard Hall. Again, I’m no Musgrove fan and could not vote for him anyway. However, there were others with a more direct role such as the Republican Ag Commissioner and one who was strangely absent in the process–the republican state auditor.

  9. Sorry…my computer doesn’t like the weather (or me) today!

    You’re right it was a blunder from the get-go but it didn’t start with ill intent IMO.

    I’ve read the “facts” about half a dozen times tonight mktgpro and just hate like all get out to admit that I can’t figure out WTF Moultrie did other than ante up another chunk of money when Musgrove called hoping he’d put in a good word for TFG if the project went south.

    There has to be a long list of those who were asked to match their first contribution. I’d be hard pressed to believe anyone did it with no expectation.

    IMO, it would be worth it if you could get him to promise to leave your project alone – maybe stay in the mansion and watch movies – something where remote control was appropriate.

    In Moultrie’s position, I’d be looking for the one that brought me to this dance.

  10. The facility group and Mr. Moultrie are a big Republic money giving machine in Georgia.

    And no one seem to put him under the microscope when his firm was winning major contractors with the State, Board of R egents, GA Tech, DTAE, etc., when he had on staff the paid SR VP of Sales, Ways and Means State Rep Erhart.

    It seemed always amazing to me that the Fcaility Group sales peopel always knew which State Agencies were getting approved budget funding, and they were there, leaving other good architectural firms in their dust

  11. Mktpro I’m cursed with too much knowledge about Ronnie Musgrove and you’re right I have no use for him. I’m fair though because I have no use for politician/crooks of either political persuation.

    sop

  12. Again you wonder what kind of kool aid the State Dems were drinking when they rallied behind Musgrove for Senate?

    From the outset many Democrats in MS felt that Ronnie Shows, properly funded, would be the more formidable candidate vs Wicker. Shows is a well liked, damn good politician with a strong conservative record who easily had more name recognition statewide, especially in the southern 2/3rd, than Wicker.

    The bet the Dem powers made was that none of this — plus the still to be exposed cover-up of Musgrove’s misuse of state travel funds, executive staff time and equipment (planes, cars) conducting/hiding the Costa/Maddox affair — would come out before the election.

    The fact that Freeland is doing verbal gymnastics as if he is competing in Beijing shares all you need to know. It was a bribe.

  13. georgianative,
    I’d be willing to bet there was a bid process…it just wasn’t made public (of course).
    There seems to be a pattern w/ TFG and hush-hush “bids”.

  14. Really? Come on? TFG has done amazing things for the state of GA.. In any company, big or small, things of this nature tend to go on. I, however, do not think that RM or TFG had any intention of gaining anything.. Do your homework! TFG has an impeccable reputation in the south.. Thats who I would want on my team.. With RM pleading guilty, he will obviously pay the price of dealing with politicians that only seem to have a personal agenda.

  15. Is TFG in business to design and plan architectural structures, or to sway elections? If a company’s in business to get government contracts why not back politicians sure to rig the bids? That’s good “Bid-ness?”

    Seems TFG lost sight of it’s engineering/architectural purpose. T’would be nice to trace the company back to Greenville, SC; Charlotte, NC to Massachusetts and beyond and find out exactly where this Carlson group actually originated (in the SOUTH??) Maybe go to the Netherlands and research there.

    When Sheriffs, State Legislators or elected officials are employed with one company, financially connected or promised employment with them, how can they be fair to all the others?

    Come on. Even Cobb County schools are scrambling to audit probably to be sure they don’t owe TFG any favors. (How many did they arrange before TFG got caught?)

    Five prominent Republicans, builders and politically connected, some way affiliated with the new Paulding court house died in a plane crash earlier this year, at least one employed with TFG. Have the builders finished the job yet?

    Something just smells rotten, and it’s just too bad for the good folks who’ve worked there to earn an honest living.

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