Hattiesburg Contractor Pleads Guilty to Federal Kickback Scheme
HATTIESBURG, MS—Local contractor Mike Miller, 48, of Hattiesburg, pled guilty on September 15, 2014, to a kickback scheme which defrauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis, FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp and Special Agent in Charge Mary L. Lewis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment on October 22, 2013, against Miller, his company, Michael Miller Construction, LLC, and others, charging them with various crimes including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, theft of government funds, and bid-rigging. Others listed in the indictment were also charged with false statements.
T.L. Pittman, Jr. owns multiple apartment complexes throughout the State of Mississippi which were financed through USDA. Pittman, through his company Century Management, Inc., contracted with Mike Miller to work for one of Pittman’s USDA-financed apartment complexes. Prior to working for Century Management, Miller was told by Pittman that he would have to pay Pittman a kickback in order to be awarded contracts from Century Management. Miller agreed and began paying Pittman cash from the contracts that he was awarded by Century Management. As part of the conspiracy, Miller would pay Tim Pittman, T.L. Pittman, Jr.’s son, the kickback in cash with the understanding that it would be passed along to his father, T.L. Pittman, Jr.
Between February 2008 and November 2008, Miller submitted various false bids in the names of fictitious companies purporting to be legitimate bids competing with Miller’s bid for work for Century Management at Liberty Place Apartments. These false bids submitted by Miller were all higher than Miller’s own bid in order to ensure Miller was awarded the contract. As a result, Miller was awarded the contract for Liberty Place Apartments, and ultimately paid more than $50,000 pursuant to the contract, some of which he used to kickback cash to T.L. Pittman, Jr., paying such cash through T.L. Pittman, Jr.’s son, Tim Pittman.
Miller will be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett in Hattiesburg on December 4, 2014, at 1:45 p.m. The maximum penalty for Conspiracy is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
T.L. Pittman, Jr. pled guilty in May, 2014 and will be sentenced on October 27, 2014. He faces a maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
This 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.