- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - A Hattiesburg businessman has pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme which defrauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Prosecutors say 82-year-old T.L. Pittman Jr. entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Hattiesburg to a bill of information that charged him with one count of theft of government funds. He will be sentenced Aug. 18.

Prosecutors say Pittman, through his company, Century Management Inc., hired a contractor to work for one of his USDA-financed apartment complexes. Pittman agreed to pay the contractor a certain dollar amount per hour, but Pittman required the contractor to kickback a portion the money.

The kickbacks continued from 2011 to 2013.

The fraud charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release.