After one of our Georgia based readers stopped in and left a comment earlier this week on my last Beef Plant post from December 2008 I openly wondered if my predictions concerning bad times ahead for convicted felon Robert Moultrie’s company, The Facility Group, had come to fruition. In response Nonya provided this answer:
They are going broke, Robert’s in jail, Cheryl is trying to sell everything off, TFG is just a skeleton crew now. How the mighty have fallen. They are losing all their land leases at the end of the year, sold off a bunch of their cattle (and lost their butts on the sale, heheheh!). They are almost penniless. Cheryl is trying to sell a property right now the Robert put up with the Bank of North GA…..
My good friend Russell followed up as well and he emailed me a story from late last month that appeared in the Marietta Daily Journal where Cheryl Moultrie did some venting and attempts to put ye ol’ spin on the events that lead to her husband’s incarceration. The story represented a big wet kiss for the Moultries that few of the locals bought into as evidenced by the reader commentary. I’ll add that despite the fact her husband was sold out to the feds by disgraced former Mississippi Governor, turned insurance defense lawyer, turned failed Senatorial Candidate Ronnie Musgrove, Cheryl Moultrie takes up for Mississippi’s most famous toe sucker in the process displaying classic denial which in turn most likely explains why our Georgia based readers still hold a great deal of enmity toward them. Jon Gillooly has the story:
Cobb socialite and philanthropist Cheryl Moultrie has had a rough two years.
Her husband, the prominent business leader Robert Moultrie, was hauled off to prison in January after pleading guilty in August 2008 to making an illegal campaign payment to a Mississippi governor.
And if that wasn’t enough, Moultrie’s construction management firm, which at one point employed about 430 people to manage projects valued at more than $700 million, is on the verge of collapse.
The Moultries, who were not receiving monthly financial reports on the state of their company because they were occupied with their legal problems, just came to realize that if immediate changes were not made, the company would bankrupt in a matter of weeks, Cheryl Moultrie said.
“We have not had a sale in 17 months. And that’s fact,” said Cheryl Moultrie, who holds power of attorney for her husband.
Of course they have not “had a sale” in 17 months as the old MO of bribing public officials under the guise of campaign contributions for no bid construction management contracts ended with Moultrie’s indictment. Aside from that it is no wonder the troubles at TFG escalated as I’ve never met a general contractor/construction manager that makes “sales”, the term just doesn’t exist in construction parlance, (at least here in Mississippi). Simply put Mrs Moultrie’s inexperience in the construction biz really shows through in the article as we continue:
From its once grand number of 430 employees, the firm has dwindled down to 75, and Cheryl Moultrie said it likely needs to be further reduced to 50.
“It’s been a tough two weeks,” she said. “We are finding out new things every day. Things that were left undone, things that weren’t being handled as they should have been done, and we’re trying to put it back on track.”
Before their legal problems, the firm earned much of its income from the public sector, such as serving as program manager for the Cobb School District’s construction projects and building a jail for Cherokee County. Moultrie served on a number of state boards and was well known for his campaign contributions to elected officials. One of those officials for whom he held a fundraiser at his Smyrna home was then-Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat who was running for a second term and who would go on to run for U.S. Senate.
Moultrie’s firm entered into a several million-dollar contract with the state of Mississippi and Community Bank in summer 2003 to manage the completion and design of a beef plant, but the plant closed three months after it opened in 2004, leaving hundreds of people out of work and placing taxpayers on the hook for $55 million in state-backed loans.
Sprague said the firm has now withdrawn from the public sector because such work requires audited financial statements for bonding “and because of what happened with Robert, that sort went by the wayside.”
Cheryl Moultrie also said the economy has slammed the company hard.
But the firm can still perform architectural, engineering and program management services.
Sprague said not only was the firm top heavy, there was a difference in philosophy.
“You know, we’ve built buildings that are $100 million, $200 million, $50 million, and they seemed to be concentrated in going after that kind of activity,” Sprague said. “There was an attitude here where we’ve got to keep going after that market. Well, that market is dead. And I’ve just taken the company in a different direction. We’re hard for cash. We’re hard for collections. And so I said, ‘what gets us over this hump? Go after the little guy.'”
The firm’s remaining sales associates have received the message.
“I’m not interested in the big things that take months to put together and assemble and get contracts and whatever,” Cheryl Moultrie said.
“We’re looking at some quick hitters. Who are we already friends with who are doing small projects? We’re looking at $50,000 to $10 million. We’ve rarely ever looked at jobs under $10 million. But my point is there is a market for those, and so that’s what we’re doing,” she said.
They are also positioning to sell the firm.
“Absolutely Robert was trying to market it for selling. We’re meeting with someone tomorrow.” she said.
In fact, the former chairman, Williams, had tried to buy it, she said.
“Frank (Williams) did make some minimal offer at one point during this year several months ago that was just not advisable for Robert to accept or not accept, so that never became a serious offer,” she said.
Notice the pattern of Mrs Moultrie blaming others for problems her husband made that resulted from his criminal behavior? It is pretty obvious that Robert Moultrie knows squat about the industry his company operated for years (most likely because he took the shortcut bribery route to success) as general contractors and construction managers are worth little more than the value of their backlog and from the look of things the company doesn’t have much. The human talent with construction experience can simply be snatched up as the layoffs occur as we continue:
During the week, Cheryl Moultrie lives in the couple’s Smyrna home and reports to Facility Group’s headquarters, where she now has an office.
On weekends, she returns to the couple’s 800-acre farm, Moultrie Meadows, located an hour south of Atlanta, where she is a member of Woodberry Baptist Church.
Every weekend she drives the hour and a half from Moultrie Meadows to where her husband is incarcerated at the federal minimum-security prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.
Visiting hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends and on holidays.
“You can’t take anything in,” she said. “I take my car keys in one pocket and my little food card in another, which we can use to eat. There are all kinds of vending machines and there is a desk in a visitor’s room with paper and pencil.”
Her husband, she said, is doing “fabulous.”
“But you’d have to know Robert,” she said. “Robert’s got a great attitude about everything.”
Robert Moultrie, 68, plays tennis every afternoon and has to date read 62 novels.
“He’s tan. He’s fit. He’s lost about 20 pounds. And he’s probably healthier and happier – I keep telling him I’m not sure he’s not at a spa,” Cheryl Moultrie said, trying to remain upbeat.
A number of Cobb leaders have been down to visit him, among them Lockheed executive Lee Rhyant. And he has won two tennis tournaments, one on Memorial Day and one on the Fourth of July.
“He is the king of the tennis court. Is that not funny? Is that just not funny? He says, ‘I’ve never won a tennis tournament in my life since I was in high school and now I have to win one at Maxwell. I’m not sure I really want that accolade,'” Cheryl Moultrie said.
Seeing the humor in their unpleasant situation is important, she said.
“You know, I was telling Donya, who heads up our marketing team, this morning she was helping me assemble some more of our books, and I said, ‘You know, Robert could really have a job right here in this assembly room because that’s what his minimal job is.’ He assembles books for the Air Force, and I told Donya, ‘He’s become quite good at cataloguing and stapling. He’s got a real appreciation for the marketing staff now, and how you go about assembling things,'” she said, noting he receives 18 cents a day for his efforts.
The couple is working on a tell-all book about their recent experiences to be released in the middle of next year.
“It’s therapy for us and it’s a warning to others. The federal government doesn’t lose,” she said.
Cheryl Moultrie maintains her husband was targeted purely for political reasons.
“It was all political,” she said. “There was a study done prior to the state even putting up the money or forming the economic development board that oversaw the beef plant project that said there wasn’t enough cows. I’ve seen the report. It clearly said there are not enough cows in Mississippi to support what you’re trying to do and they just barreled ahead and did it anyway. And Robert was advised. Even his people who went out to Mississippi and surveyed the job after we were invited by the bank to come and try to help them get it back on track. It was even advised that we may want to keep a distance from that. Hindsight’s 20/20.”
Cheryl Moultrie described what happened as a political witch hunt to prevent Musgrove, a Democrat, from obtaining a seat in the U.S. Senate.
“It was an effort to cost Ronnie Musgrove the election and it did. He lost the election. That is the truth. The whole timeline is all about defeating Ronnie Musgrove for senator,” she said.
Here at Slabbed we’re glad Mr Moultrie is enjoying his stint in the pokey and Mrs Moultrie is right, when the government sets its sights on you it is hard to escape. The book should be interesting as it will no doubt represent yet another attempt by the Moultries to pass off his self admitted criminal behavior as a political prosecution. I wonder how he will deal with bribes disguised as campaign contributions that he paid to Ronnie Musgrove and then billed back to the beef plant project. As Bam Bam would say “forget about it”.
Of course Mrs Moultrie doesn’t stop there, far from it in fact. Anyone else remember the special birthday trip to London and Flip Spiceland? Mrs Moultrie sure doesn’t or else she would have mentioned her husband obtained permission from Judge Biggers for her special birthday junket instead of telling a whopper to the local paper. I’m beginning to understand why so many people in Georgia hate the Moultries. Not that it is my intent to inflict such flaming boors on the good citizens of Georgia but we really don’t want Robert and Cheryl Moultrie anywhere near Mississippi after he gets out of prison. After all last time Robert Moultrie was here the state’s taxpayers were fleeced to tune $55 million dollars as we continue the story:
When the indictments were made public, the couple was in London, as reported by then-Facility Group spokesman Flip Spiceland, a former TV news weatherman.
“And that’s another rumor. Everybody said we ran away. In fact, we had just been in London two days and we caught the next plane home. I’ll tell you, we came home to fight it and that was our intention until September of last year, ’till Labor Day when he decided to plea and we realized you can’t fight ’em. And the negotiation point was that the indictments against the company would be lifted. Robert’s serving time so his company can be saved and that’s kind of the irony. Here we are and what happened is his company was not saved,” she said.
Spiceland’s career with the Facility Group ended shortly after he revealed Moultrie’s London whereabouts.
“That lasted about three weeks. I knew we were in trouble when I met him the first time and he didn’t have socks on. Skip something, what was his name?” Cheryl Moultrie said with a laugh.
While she tries to remain positive, she said a day doesn’t go by without some amount of tears.
“I’m an emotional basketcase, but I’m OK. I’m a strong person and I thank God that I am,” she said.
I suspect Flip Spiceland is equally glad he did not have a longer association with Robert Moultrie and the other self admitted felons who once ran The Facility Group as he still has a good name today, unlike those now serving time in the federal prison system.