- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) - A federal judge has denied former Lowndes County Supervisor Jim Terry’s request to review his 2007 fraud conviction.

Terry, acting as his own attorney, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in 2010 with the U.S. District Court in Aberdeen. Terry argued that his indictment was defective. He said it didn’t provide adequate notice of the charges against him and prevented him from presenting a proper defense.

Terry also argued the indictment lacked specific dates of incidents of when the alleged fraud took place.

Terry, now 53, was sentenced to 13 months in prison and removed from office in December 2007 after his conviction for misusing a county-issued Fuelman gasoline card. Terry has completed his prison term and is serving a sentence of five years’ probation.

Prosecutors said Terry was accused of fraudulently obtaining gasoline and using a county-owned vehicle for his personal activities, including trips to casinos, between Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2005.

State law allows supervisors to use private vehicles in “emergencies” and to pay for the fuel, but the use must be authorized by the board of supervisors, even if after the fact.

Prosecutors said Terry did not obtain such approval.

In denying Terry’s petition this past week, U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson said Terry’s indictment was sufficient under state law.

Davidson said court records showed Terry made over 90 trips to the casinos and other places during that two-year period, and Terry was best positioned to determine the time and reason for each trip. He said Terry had access to the Fuelman charges and casino card records.

Terry knew the nature of the charges against him purely personal use of the Fuelman card. He could easily have constructed an aggregation of data as the state did and determined, as best he could, the date, destination, and purpose of each trip.

“It was his choice not to do so, and that choice does not state a valid habeas corpus claim. In any event … the compilation of fuel and gambling records painted a clear picture of misuse of the Fuelman card. As such, the compilation tended to show his guilt, rather than his innocence,” Davidson said.


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