- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - An 82-year-old Hattiesburg businessman has pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme which defrauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

T. L. Pittman Jr., the city’s former fire chief, entered the plea Tuesday. A federal criminal bill of information filed May 1 against Pittman charges him with one count of theft of government funds.

Pittman owns multiple apartment complexes in Mississippi financed through the USDA. Through his company, Centurty Management Inc., Pittman hired a contractor and agreed to pay him a certain amount per hour. But, officials say Pittman required the contractor to return a portion of his wage from 2011 through 2013.

U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett set sentencing for Pittman on Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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