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Ex-housing director pleading guilty to conspiracy to embezzle

SHELBY — The former director of a nonprofit housing agency has agreed to plead guilty to charges against her and testify against an ex-state employee.

Linda Balducci of Shelby pleaded guilty last week before U.S. District Judge Michael Mills to one count of conspiracy to embezzle money.

Court papers show that Balducci also will testify against codefendant Connie Lewis, a former Mississippi Development Authority employee accused of accepting more than $250,000 in bribes to steer work to a Mound Bayou contractor.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Prosecutors alleged the contractor, Jimmy Stokes, kicked $90,000 back to Balducci when she ran Southeastern Development Opportunities, a group that received grants to build low-income housing in a number of Mississippi Delta towns.

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