Holmes County Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Bribery
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 29, 2011|
JACKSON, MS—Larry Dennis, 59, of Pickens, Mississippi, pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to a criminal information charging him with bribery, U.S. Attorney John M.Dowdy, Jr. and FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen announced. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Dennis was required to immediately resign his position as a supervisor with the Holmes County, Mississippi, Board of Supervisors, and to neither run for public office, apply for, or be employed by any governmental entity in the future
On April 24, 2010, a series of deadly tornados swept through Central Mississippi. In the wake of those tornados, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracted with a company to removeand dispose of debris in Yazoo and Attala Counties. To expedite the cleanup process, this company sought and received permission from the Holmes County Board of Supervisors to dump debris from the Yazoo County disaster area at a nearby Holmes County landfill.
Shortly thereafter, a company representative sought consent from the Holmes County Board of Supervisors to dump debris from the Attala County disaster area at a different Holmes County landfill. This second landfill was located in Beat 3, which Larry Dennis represented inhis position as a Holmes County supervisor. Dennis advised the company representative that he had obtained the authorization letter from the Board of Supervisors, but he would not provide the letter to the company unless the company representative gave him a “donation” in the amount of $3,500. A check was subsequently given to Dennis in the amount of $3,500. After receiving the check, defendant Dennis supplied the authorization letter to the company representative.
A short time later, in the process of removing and disposing of debris, the same company damaged a road which was maintained by Holmes County. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers required the company to repair the damaged road and obtain a release from Holmes County before the Corps would continue to pay the company the remaining amount (almost $400,000) for debris removal and disposal. Dennis informed the company representative that he would not give him a letter from the Holmes County Board of Supervisors releasing the company until the company representative gave him another “donation” in the amount of $3,500.
Pursuant to Dennis’s demand, the company representative subsequently hand-delivered $3,500 cash to him on two separate occasions: $1,000 cash on July 16, 2011, and $2,500 cash on July 22, 2011. At various times throughout the investigation, Dennis instructed the company representative to call him on his personal cell phone, and not his county-issued cell phone, because the county could pull the records.
Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi, stated: “Public corruption is the FBI’s highest criminal priority. Elected and appointed officials must act impartially and without influence or bias. Their failure to do so jeopardizes the confidence placed in them by the public they are sworn to serve.”
Dennis will be sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge William H. Barbour, Jr. on December 15, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Dowdy praised the efforts of special agents from the FBI office in Jackson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, who is prosecuting the case.