Testimony continues Wednesday in the trial of Kenneth Fairley Sr., a Hattiesburg televangelist and political operative, which began Tuesday despite last-minute attempts by Fairley’s attorneys to halt the prosecution.
On Monday, Fairley’s attorney, Sanford Knott of Jackson, filed motions asking U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett to dismiss the case against Fairley. One motion claimed that the government failed to produce in a timely manner a range of information that could have been helpful to Fairley’s defense. Starrett dismissed those motions and ordered the trial to begin.
Outside the presence of the jury of 12 persons and two alternates, Starrett dismissed Knott’s motions.
Fairley and co-defendant Artie Fletcher of Picayune were indicted March 10 on multiple counts of money laundering and conspiracy to cheat U.S. agencies out of money reimbursed for residential rehabilitation in Hattiesburg.
The accusations stem from August 2010, when the City of Hattiesburg entered into an agreement with Fairley’s Pinebelt Community Services to rehabilitate three local properties. A fourth was included later.
The indictment states that Fairley contacted Fletcher, owner of Interurban Development, a New Orleans-based, for-profit development organization, to rehabilitate two of the properties. The indictment states that Fletcher conspired with Fairley to provide seed money to Pinebelt so that Pinebelt could incur costs before receiving reimbursement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Fairly is charged with submitting inflated Pinebelt invoices for the work and pocketing the difference, about $170,000.
Fletcher pleaded guilty Friday to a lesser charge of failing to notify authorities that he knew a felony was being committed. He is expected to be the government’s chief witness against Fairley.