Rocky Mount NC – Partner in city’s downtown hotel project indicted in Mississippi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Former Executive Director and Three Contractors of the Mississippi Department of Education Charged with Conspiracy, Federal Bribery, Wire Fraud and Money Laundering

Indictment Alleges Contract Bid-Rigging Scheme, Kickbacks and Money Laundering

Jackson, Miss. – Cerissa Renfroe Neal, 45, of Madison County, David B. Hunt, 54, of Jackson, Tennessee, Joseph Kyles, 51, of Memphis, Tennessee, and Lambert Martin, 59, of Memphis, Tennessee, have been charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery, announced United States Attorney Mike Hurst, Special Agent in Charge Michelle A. Sutphin with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi, Special Agent in Charge Neil E. Sanchez with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, and Mississippi State Auditor Shad White.

The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on February 25, 2020, and recently unsealed by a federal court, charges Cerissa Renfroe Neal, the former Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Education (“MDOE”), along with her co-defendants Joseph B. Kyles, David B. Hunt, and Lambert Martin, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and seven counts of wire fraud. The indictment also charges Neal and Kyles with one count of money laundering.  Finally, Neal and Kyles are each also charged with three counts of bribery.

“Those who defraud the public’s trust will find themselves standing before a court of law to answer for their wrongs.  Public corruption erodes faith in our democracy and decays the very soul of our form of government.  Bringing to justice corrupt public officials has always been and remains a high priority of this office, and a personal mission of mine, and we will continue to pursue corruption wherever it may lead,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst.

According to the indictment, Cerissa Neal was the Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Education during 2013-2016, when she conspired with the three named defendants and other conspirators, to defraud the State of Mississippi and the United States by bid-rigging, false quotes, and altered purchase orders, in order to make money and profit by defrauding the Mississippi Department of Education into awarding contracts and purchase orders at inflated prices, directed to conspirators and their businesses.

The indictment alleges that Neal, using her position within the Mississippi Department of Education, would split contract requests from one contract into multiple, smaller contracts, in order to avoid threshold amounts that would trigger a formal, competitive bidding process.  Neal would entertain and advocate for a bid for the contract from one of the three conspirators’ businesses, including The Kyles Company in Memphis, Tennessee (Joseph Kyles), Doc Imaging (also d/b/a as “Hunt Services”) in Jackson, Tennessee (David Hunt), and Educational Awareness in Memphis, Tennessee (Lambert Martin).  To meet the Department of Education requirement that such an informal bid have at least two competing vendor quotes for comparison, Neal would obtain false and inflated quotes, by herself and from the other conspirators, designed to make the intended conspirator’s business the lower bid, and to guarantee the award of the contract.

The indictment alleges that conspirators coordinated their submissions to the Department of Education as well as the sharing of the resulting contract payments.  After the Department of Education made payment on the rigged contract to the conspirator-owned business, the winning bidder shared some of the money with conspirators, in return for their assistance in rigging the bid and winning the Department of Education contract.  In this manner, Neal received more than $42,000 directly or indirectly from her conspirators.  Kyles, Hunt, and Martin, through their respective businesses, garnered over $650,000 from the State of Mississippi, including federal funds granted by the U.S. Department of Education to Mississippi.

Hunt, Kyles and Martin will appear for arraignment September 10, 2020, before United States Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball in Jackson at 2:30 p.m.   Neal appeared in court for her arraignment on August 19, 2020, and was released on conditions of bond pending trial.

If convicted, each defendant faces maximum penalties of 20 years in prison for each count charged for conspiracy and wire fraud, and 10 years in prison for each count of money laundering and bribery.  Each count also can merit a fine of up to $250,000.  

The case has been assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee for trial.

U.S. Attorney Hurst commended the work of the Special Agents of the FBI’s Jackson Division and the Office of the Inspector General, United States Department of Education, as well as the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office and the Mississippi State Attorney General’s Office, who investigated the case.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Theodore Cooperstein.

The public is reminded that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Component(s):

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

USAO – Mississippi, Southern

Updated September 3, 2020

See Original Source

See related: 

Partner in city’s downtown hotel project indicted in Mississippi

A businessman in the public-private partnership of the proposed downtown development project is charged in federal court in Mississippi in connection with allegedly being part of a bid-rigging scheme with a past official of that state’s department of education.

David Hunt, of Jackson, Tenn., and his team are proposing to build a hotel, parking garage, retail spaces and housing adjacent to the Rocky Mount Event Center, which is on the northeast side of downtown.

A City of Rocky Mount spokesman told the Telegram on Saturday that the municipality was not aware of the charges against Hunt.

Mayor Sandy Roberson, in response to a text message from the Telegram on Saturday, said he heard that day of a rumor about Hunt having been charged.

“I will say that if the matter is confirmed that we should attempt to understand whether similar circumstances are at play in Rocky Mount for transparency sake,” Roberson said. (Read more)


 

From The Desk Of Edgecombe County Democratic Party Chair Leshaun Jenkins

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FROM THE DESK OF THE CHAIR

SEPTEMBER, 2020

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GREETINGS FELLOW PARTY MEMBERS!

Happy September!

I hope that this newsletter finds you in good spirit. Today Marks the 60 day mark before we elect hopefully a new President and Vice President in country. There are some key elections that are also happening locally and at the state level. Let us be vigilant, persistent, and consistent as we continue to ORGANIZE, MOBILIZE, and ENERGIZE our county and our party. I take the Get Out To Vote Initiative very seriously, and for that matter, I will be rolling out an initiative and some activities that I will be pushing from now until the election. Keep up the great work!

PRECINCT LETTERS

Letters where mailed out to every precinct chair requesting meeting and organization information. The reason for this request was precinct paperwork has been scattered into several different locations. In order for me and the party to 100% confirm precinct organization, is to have all of the paperwork and information in a centralized location. As stated in the letters, it may be an inconvenience to have to resubmit information that maybe you already have submitted, but for the sake of organization and stability in terms of our party, is the best thing. Thank you so much to ALL the precincts who have mailed or resubmitted their paperwork to me. I am grateful for each of you and look forward to receiving information from all the others.

NEW INITIATIVE

BARBERS, BEAUTICIANS, AND BALLOTS

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LAUNCHING SATURDAY SEPT. 12, 2020

One assumption that we make sometimes is that people have accessibility to voter registration opportunities, which is not always the case. Even in the age of technology, I believe that people are still marginalized sometimes by seen and subliminal factors. In my leadership, I believe that is it important that we all do what we can to close these opportunity gaps. I have reached out to local barbers and beauticians and I will make stops in and spend some time encouraging citizens of Edgecombe to get registered to vote.

EDGECOMBE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY RALLY

Join us on September 22, at 7:00 pm for our 2020 Democratic Party Rally! Spread the word to ALL community stakeholders! This will be an excellent opportunity for us to get ENERGIZED for the upcoming election!

Below you will find the zoom information:

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Dial-in: Contact Leshaun Jenkins or a member of the Executive Committee

Meeting ID: Contact Leshaun Jenkins or a member of the Executive Committee

Find your local number: Contact Leshaun Jenkins or a member of the Executive Committee

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VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE

WHEN

SATURDAY, SEP. 5TH, 10AM-2PM

WHERE

718 EAST CHURCH STREET
TARBORO, NC

Get Directions

VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE

WHEN

SATURDAY, SEP. 12TH, 10AM-2PM

WHERE

718 EAST CHURCH STREET
TARBORO, NC

MORE INFORMATION

This is the same weekend that my Initiative Barbers, Beauticians, and Ballots will launch at area shops here in Edgecombe; therefore my time will be split at various locations. This is also part of the Get Out To Vote initiative.

Get Directions

VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE (ALPHA PHI ALPHA FRATERNITY, INC)

WHEN

SATURDAY, SEP. 19TH, 10AM

WHERE

718 EAST CHURCH STREET
TARBORO, NC

MORE INFORMATION

I personally want be present for this particular drive, due to a speaking engagement in Fayetteville, NC.

Get Directions

EDGECOMBE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY RALLY

WHEN

TUESDAY, SEP. 22ND, 7PM

WHERE

THIS IS AN ONLINE EVENT.

MORE INFORMATION

Below you will find the zoom information:

mobile

+13126266799,,84346608705# US

Dial-in: (929) 205 6099

Meeting ID: 843 4660 8705

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbdmEYqvvu

VOTER REGISRATION DRIVE (ALPHA PHI ALPHA FRATERNITY, INC.)

WHEN

SATURDAY, SEP. 26TH, 10AM-2PM

WHERE

718 EAST CHURCH STREET
TARBORO, NC

Get Directions

EDGECOMBE COUNTY CANDIDATE FORUM (MUST REGISTER)

WHEN

TUESDAY, SEP. 29TH, 5:30PM

WHERE

THIS IS AN ONLINE EVENT.

MORE INFORMATION

The Edgecombe County Human Relations Commission presents the Edgecombe County Candidates Forum

When: Tuesday, September 29, 2020 5:30 p.m.

Where: Zoom Video Conference (virtual) Due to the forum’s virtual format, all participants are asked to register in advance. Once registered, participants will receive the virtual meeting information. You may submit questions for candidates in advance.

To register, please go to http://bit.ly/CandidatesForum2020 or contact Shoneca Kent at sekent@ncat.edu or 252-641-7821

Thank you Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

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Thank you Eastern Star Missionary Baptist Church

THANK YOU ALPHA PHI ALPHA FRATERNITY, INC.

THANK YOU EASTERN STAR MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH


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Leshaun is using Smore newsletters to spread the word online.


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News From Congressman G.K. Butterfield

News from Representative Butterfield

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HOME
ABOUT MEMBER
ABOUT DISTRICT
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Friends,           
It is an honor to serve as your representative for North Carolina’s First Congressional District. I am committed to being a strong advocate for my constituents, working to improve lives by proposing impactful legislative initiatives, prioritizing constituent services and expanding opportunities. This newsletter serves to provide you with up-to-date information on Congressional work in our district and on Capitol Hill.  From the courtroom to Congress, I have always fought for equality and opportunity; and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you in Congress to continue that fight.           
Very truly yours,     

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“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Butterfield Fights for Postal Service 

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The Postal Service is a pillar of our democracy, enshrined in the Constitution and essential for providing critical services: delivering prescriptions, Social Security benefits, paychecks, tax returns and absentee ballots to millions of Americans, including in our most remote communities. 

On August 22, 2020, the House passed H.R. 8015, the ‘Delivering for America Act’: urgently-needed legislation to prohibit the implementation or approval of any changes to Postal Service operations or service levels, in effect on January 1, 2020, that impede prompt, reliable, and efficient service. This prohibition remains in effect for the duration of the coronavirus crisis or through January 31, 2021. The bill also bans any prohibition on paying postal employees overtime and prohibits closing, consolidating, or reducing the hours of any postal facility.
The bill includes $25 billion in emergency funding, meeting the funding request of the Postal Service. The bill also includes provisions requiring all official election mail to be treated as First-Class mail, prohibiting the removal of mail boxes and mail sorting machines, and reversing any changes to policies that delay mail delivery. The bill passed the House 257-150.

Butterfield Defends American Telecommunications Networks from Foreign Interference

On August 12, 2020,  Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) introduced H.R. 8000 the Ensuring Network Security Act.  This bipartisan bill aims to fully rid U.S. networks of equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, companies that have been identified by the United States government as national security threats.  The bill is a companion to the bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate introduced by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ron Johnson (R-WI).
The importance of securing our telecommunications networks from foreign equipment manufacturers who pose national security threats and supporting the growth of a trusted manufacturing base for networking equipment cannot be overstated.  The Ensuring Network Security Act will build upon existing efforts passed into law by the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act (STCNA) to secure our nation’s telecommunication networks   by fully funding the replacement of high-risk equipment.  The bill will first provide replacement funding to carriers that already meet the eligibility definition under STCNA, then to higher education providers of educational broadband service, then to eligible telecommunications providers and their affiliates with up to 10 million subscribers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only further demonstrated the importance of broadband connectivity to our lives and livelihoods.  I’m committed to doing everything I can to strengthen connectivity for eastern North Carolinians and all Americans, and it’s especially important that these vital communications networks are secure and free from foreign interference,” said Congressman Butterfield.  “My bill will help our nation fully purge our networks of high-risk foreign equipment and encourage the rest of the world to do the same.  I’m proud to work with my Republican colleague, Congressman Kinzinger, on this critical national security issue.”

Constituent Success Stories 

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Securing Benefits for Constituents in Need

My office received a call from a constituent who had not received his Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits since December 2019, nor had he received his COVID-19 stimulus payment. He thought the problem was with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the IRS; however, after making contacts with the SSA and the IRS, my office caseworkers discovered that all payments had been made, but there was still an issue with proper distribution. We discovered that the problem was with Direct Express. After significant communication and investigation, his Direct Express card was reissued with 8 months worth of SSI plus his full Economic Impact Payment!


Testimonials:

Stimulus Check & Tax Refund Support: Robbie from Durham, NC

August 19, 2020

“I just wanted to let you know my stimulus check was deposited to my account today!  I’m not sure why it was delayed for several months, but I’m happy to have it, and I really appreciate all your efforts to make this happen. I hope you have a great rest of the week, and I appreciate the good work you and your colleagues do each day to help the people in your district, and across the country.” 

August 13, 2020

“Just wanted to let you know I received the tax refund payment today…yay!  Many thanks for your help with this!

Once again, I am grateful to you for your help, and appreciative of the good work you and Mr. Butterfield do.  I am proud that he represents me in Congress.”
Gratefully,
Robbie 

Census 2020/Register to Vote 

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There’s still time to complete the census! Recent reports show that the census self-response rate for North Carolina is only 60%. The census can be completed by mail, online at My2020Census.gov, or by phone at 844-330-2020. It’s quick and easy. The 2020 Census questionnaire will take about 10 minutes to complete. Your response helps to direct billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities for schools, roads, and other public services. Don’t delay, help to shape your future today!

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North Carolina! Are you registered to vote? Do you have a plan to vote in this election? Know your deadlines, register and make a plan to vote! Learn more about mail-in voting here.

Important North Carolina Election Dates and Deadlines:

  • Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020
  • Register to vote
    • Online: Friday, October 9, 2020
    • By mail (postmarked): Friday, October 9, 2020
    • In-person: Friday, October 9, 2020
    • Same-Day: Registration: October 15-31, 2020
      • You can register and vote in person at one-stop sites during the early voting period. Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of residence. Within two business days, the county board of elections will review the registration and the registrant’s address. Your vote will be counted unless the county board of elections determines that you are not qualified to vote.
    • Request a Ballot by Mail (received by): Tuesday, October 27, 2020
    • Early-Voting: Thursday, October 15, 2020 to Saturday, October 31, 2020 (Varies by county and municipality. Check your local Elections office for more information)

Happy Labor Day!

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On Labor Day, we are reminded that American workers are the backbone of the prosperity of our country. This Monday, September 7th, and EVERY day, we show gratitude to America’s workforce and continue to fight for workers’ rights.




Some Of These Local Governments Across The Nation Are Showing That Racism Is Alive And Well Ask Commissioner Patricia Uzzell

Lucama NC Wilson County residents call for commissioner to step down: Board member accused of using racial slurs

The Political Agitator’s response: It is a damn shame that Trump Disease is a pandemic across the nation. But there is a cure. Vote Biden/Harris and Elect Democrats.

Gladys Martinez, foreground, receives applause from some members of the audience after calling for Lucama Commissioner David Johnson to resign Monday night at the Lucama Board of Commissioners.

Gladys Martinez, foreground, receives applause from some members of the audience after calling for Lucama Commissioner David Johnson to resign Monday night at the Lucama Board of Commissioners.

DREW C. WILSON | TIMES

By Drew C. Wilson

dwilson@wilsotimes.com
252-265-7818

LUCAMA — In a packed meeting room, three Lucama residents called for Commissioner David Johnson to step aside over allegations that the incumbent has used racial slurs when referring to town employees and the town’s first African American commissioner.

Gladys Martinez, Helen Torres and Mariann Crabtree called for the commissioner to step down from his position on Monday.

Martinez did not mince words, pointedly repeating the offensive language Johnson’s been accused of using, including the N-word.

“I am going to say it like it is, like it was said,” Martinez said. “If I would have known it at the last meeting, I would have addressed it at that time. I want you to know that I have got just as many white friends as I do African American and we talk straight to each other and it broke their heart too.”

“I could not believe that it was going on in my town. Someone in another town came up and asked me what is going on in Lucama, that one commissioner is calling Commissioner Uzzell and the other African American workers the N-word,” Martinez said, referring to Commissioner Patricia Uzzell, the first African American to sit on the board. (Read more)

See related:

Lucama protesters: ‘The people mean business’

LUCAMA — Protesters gathered at Town Hall in advance of the Lucama Board of Commissioners’ Monday meeting.  About 15 protesters carried signs demanding justice for Lucama’s … more

By Drew C. Wilson | dwilson@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7818 | 8/12

Lucama federal suit widens: Amended complaint includes buried records, electric bills

LUCAMA — Allegations that officials ordered town records buried and allowed adjustments to some residents’ electric bills are among new claims added to a federal lawsuit on Thursday. Last … more


Settlement sought in EEOC complaint: Commissioner accused of using racial slurs

LUCAMA — Negotiations are underway between attorneys representing the town of Lucama and those who have filed formal complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging racial … more


Lucama board fills vacant seat; more concerns raised about racial slurs

LUCAMA — In a 2-1 vote, the Lucama Board of Commissioners elected Michael Best to the seat vacated by Commissioner Brenda Blalock. … more