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Former city contractor pleads guilty to bank fraud

Stack Of CashSOUTHAVEN — A former contractor with the city of Southaven has pleaded guilty to a federal charge that he made false statements to an area bank to get money from a loan for drainage work at a subdivision that his development company never built.

The Commercial Appeal reports it took 53-year-old James Harris, of Hernando, just 25 minutes to enter his plea to one count of loan and credit application fraud yesterday in federal court in Aberdeen.

U.S. Dist. Judge Sharion Aycock accepted his plea.

Last year, when Harris was arrested on the bank fraud charges, he faced three fraud counts and pleaded not guilty.

Harris admitted during his plea hearing that through his former development company, RH Holdings, he submitted four fake invoices to Citizens National Bank falsely claiming that his company, M &H Construction, needed to draw money from the $5 million bank loan to construct a box culvert at or near Cherry Hill subdivision when in reality the City of Southaven had already paid his company $181,544 to install the culvert.

Harris faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and he will also have to pay restitution. No sentencing date has been set for Harris.

Harris was president of M &H until he filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011. The company restructured and is now run by his son.

Harris remains free on $5,000 bond pending sentencing on the felony charge.

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