Trial related to failed Miss. beef plant delayed

Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The trial of a Tennessee man accused of pocketing money that was to buy equipment for a failed beef plant in Yalobusha County has been rescheduled for June 23.

James Draper of Mount Juliet, Tenn., was scheduled to stand trial Monday in federal court in Oxford.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mills agreed to the delay at the request of Draper’s attorney, Kenneth Coghlan.

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Coghlan told Mills that he is one of two county appointed attorneys for indigent defendants in Lafayette County and that he needed to be available during the extended May term of circuit court.

Draper is charged with devising a scheme to defraud the state of Mississippi and money laundering. If convicted, Draper faces a maximum 30 years in prison and a $750,000 in fines on the two charges.

Draper allegedly received a $187,725 check from the state to purchase equipment for the plant, but items were not purchased, and Draper deposited the money into his own account, according to an indictment.

The indictment alleged Draper gave former beef plant owner Richard Hall $167,725 and kept $20,000 for himself, according to the indictment.

The beef plant closed in 2004, just three months after opening, costing about 400 people their jobs and Mississippians about $55 million in a grant, a state-backed loan and other expenses.