TUPELO, Miss. – Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) records indicate that Richard Hall, the only Mississippi Beef Plant scandal defendant ordered to serve both state and federal prison time, is now free on early release, reports the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.
Hall was released on July 6, more than one year into an eight-year sentence. Hall received approval for the “earned release supervision.” He will be supervised by the Yalobusha County Field Office.
Hall must serve his supervision within the state, said MDOC spokesman Grace Fisher. If any conditions are violated, he must serve the rest of his sentence in a correctional facility. His tentative discharge date is Aug. 29, 2014, and the maximum date is Sept. 23, 2015, she added.
Hall was taken into state custody in 2012 and imprisoned within days after his federal prison sentence was shortened due to leniency. Four other persons and the Georgia facilities management company were also indicted on federal charges associated with this scandal; these men also did federal prison time.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal further reports the beef-plant scandal seemed to begin as a well-intentioned effort by the state Legislature to promote agricultural jobs in the northern part of the state. The processing plant’s construction was directed to Yalobusha County. In 2000, Hall, whose family had beef business experience, was approached about building and operating the plant. Ultimately, he failed to get enough financing, a Georgia-based company took over. The plant closed three months after it opened in August 2004. As a result, hundreds lost their jobs and the state of Mississippi became responsible to pay more than $35 million on guaranteed loans.
Hall was charged federally with mail fraud and a conspiracy to defraud the state, the bank and others in early 2006. He pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering and he agreed to tell authorities all he knew about the scandal to avoid more-lengthy prison time. He also pleaded guilty to state mail fraud charges.
As a result, he was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison in September 2007, and ordered to pay restitution of $577,964. Approximately one year later, the government asked for leniency on his sentence; two-and-a-half years after that, a federal judge granted his sentence be reduced by 32-months. After being released from federal prison on May 18, 2012, Hall was apprehended by state authorities 13 days later. He had spent most of his state prison time at South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville, Miss.