WVa. inmate enters plea in Miss. fraud case

Published 8:11 pm Friday, December 7, 2007

A man already serving prison sentences in two other states has pleaded not guilty to identity theft and Hurricane Katrina fraud in Mississippi.

William Ryene Nesbitt, 61, entered the plea Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Sumner to the charges of defrauding the government out of more than $1,000.

Nesbitt was brought to Mississippi from the Huttonsville Correctional Center in West Virginia where he is serving a sentence for identity theft.

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Nesbitt also is, technically, an inmate in Alabama, where officials said he is serving a life sentence. He was sentenced as a habitual offender there after his 1994 convictions for burglary, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools, officials said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Irwin, the prosecutor on the Mississippi case, would not answer questions Wednesday about why Nesbitt was not in custody at the time of the alleged offenses in Mississippi or West Virginia.

In Mississippi, prosecutors said Nesbitt allegedly used the identity of someone else to apply for disaster unemployment assistance from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, which was using money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The offenses took place between October 2005 and June 2006, prosecutors said.

Nesbitt could face 10 years in federal prison, if convicted.

The government also wants him to pay back the money he is accused of fraudulently getting.