ECRU — A federal judge has denied arguments from Ecru insurance agent Ken Nowlin that he was given faulty advice by his attorney in a government kickback case.
Nowlin was seeking a new trial.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills, in an order filed Monday, denied Nowlin’s motion to have his sentence and conviction vacated.
Nowlin had alleged his attorney, Tony Farese of Ashland, forced him to plead guilty to a federal insurance scam. Farese denied the allegations.
“Nowlin’s arguments would be plausible,” Mills wrote in the 13-page opinion, “except every one of them is undermined by his testimony before the grand jury” and in documents he signed and during his plea hearing testimony.
In his plea hearing, Nowlin testified that he knew the payments were contrary to Mississippi law. He also conceded he paid former county supervisor Gary Massey $551,000 to do “very little” consulting work.
Nowlin also argued Massey had permission to work for him, that neither of them could influence insurance rates at issue and neither took an overt act to further the conspiracy.
Nowlin was sentenced in 2008 to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges related to his role in a scheme involving Lafayette County’s health care coverage. Nowlin, a former supervisor, also paid $275,942 in restitution to Lafayette County.
Massey was sentenced to three years.
Massey and Nowlin were charged with conspiracy, public corruption and money laundering. Prosecutors said Massey accepted payments of more than $827,000 during his term as supervisor for the Lafayette County Employee Health Care Contract paid through Nowlin, the agent on record at the time.
Before he became a supervisor in 1995, Massey was the insurance agent of record for Lafayette County. Federal prosecutors claimed Massey used his influence to get Nowlin the job as insurance agent of record in exchange for the commission.
Both men have completed their sentences.
— Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal