Hattiesburg Businessman Pleads Guilty to Federal Kickback Scheme
HATTIESBURG, MS—Local businessman and former Hattiesburg Fire Chief T.L. Pittman, Jr., 82, pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to a kickback scheme that defrauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis, FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen, and Special Agent in Charge Mary L. Lewis of USDA Office of Inspector General.
A federal criminal bill of information was filed against Pittman on May 1, 2014, charging him with one count of theft of government funds. Pittman is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett on August 18, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. The fraud charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release.
Pittman owns multiple apartment complexes throughout the state of Mississippi that were financed through USDA. Pittman, through his company Century Management Inc., hired a contractor to work for one of his USDA-financed apartment complexes. When the contractor was hired, Pittman agreed to pay the contractor a certain dollar amount per hour, but Pittman required the contractor to kick back a portion of his hourly wage to Pittman. The kickbacks continued from 2011 through 2013.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the USDA Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst is prosecuting the case.