By Jason C. Mattox and Billy Davis
Former beef plant operator Richard M. Hall Jr. was sentenced on state charges Friday at the Panola County Courthouse in Sardis, bringing to a quiet end his role in the failed venture.
Standing before Circuit Judge Andrew C. Baker, Hall was sentenced to eight years with one year to serve during a low-key hearing that lasted no more than 10 minutes.
Following the hearing, District Attorney John Champion told The Panolian that Hall will begin serving time for federal crimes related to the failed beef plant on Monday, October 1.
The federal prison is located in Texarkana, Arkansas.
Hall was sentenced last month on federal charges of money laundering and mail fraud.
At Friday’s hearing, Hall was told by Baker he will begin serving his one-year sentence Monday, meaning the one-year sentence will run concurrently with his federal sentence since he begins his federal sentence then.
Prior to Friday’s sentence on the state charges, Baker reminded Hall of the plea agreement he reached with federal and state prosecutors in 2006.
“Are you still agreeable to the plea you entered at that time?” Baker asked.
“Yes, your honor,” Hall replied, his only words spoken during the hearing.
The beef plant, located near Oakland, closed its doors in November, 2004 only three months after opening.
The cost of the failed plant, which had employed 400 people, was estimated at $55 million.
Hall, who is from Tennessee, cooperated with public officials in Mississippi to make the plant operational, but to date the fallout from its failure has entangled only Hall and Sean Carothers, the plant’s contractor.
Carothers, who is from Water Valley, was sentenced to 21 months for paying a $173,000 kickback to Hall but is cooperating with prosecutors.
The Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported last week that prosecutors had not released the name of another party who is involved in a pending plea agreement related to the plant.
Attorney General Jim Hood has said the state’s investigation into the failed plant has been completed.
At Hall’s sentencing Friday, Champion advised the court that the defendant has been cooperative with an ongoing federal investigation into the failed beef plant.
“Because he has been cooperative, I feel comfortable recommending a five-year sentence on the first count with one year to serve and three years on the other two counts to run concurrent,” Champion told Baker.
Baker then accepted Champion’s recommendation and said Hall will begin his prison term Monday.
Hall was also ordered by the court to pay $150 for the state’s criminal defense fund and additional court costs.