- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Federal prosecutors want to dismiss charges against Kamran Pahlavan, the former executive director of the Harrison County Utility Authority.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruth Morgan filed the motion Monday in federal court in Gulfport.

The move comes after Pahlavan’s lawyer had argued the charges should be thrown out because he was promised immunity as an FBI informant in the federal corruption case that snagged contractor Sean Anthony and former Harrison County Commissioner Kim Savant. However, last week, federal prosecutors responded saying Pahlavan had voided that deal by lying to federal agents about cars he received from Anthony.

Pahlavan pleaded not guilty Dec. 16 to the five-count indictment alleging he took bribes from Anthony including automobiles, New Orleans Saints tickets, home repairs and use of a beach condominium. In exchange, Pahlavan is alleged to have steered business to Anthony. Pahlavan faced up to 60 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines on the five felony counts.

A hearing was set Thursday before U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden to hear arguments on dismissing the charges over the immunity issue, as well as to handle other business before a trial scheduled to begin July 13. The indictment would be dismissed without prejudice, meaning it’s possible the government could seek fresh charges.

“We maintain Kamran Pahlavan’s innocence and we’re happy that the government saw fit to dismiss the case,” Pahlavan’s attorney, Peter Barrett, told the Sun Herald. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we’re pleased to be where we are right now.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.

Savant pleaded guilty Dec. 16 in federal court in Gulfport to a conspiracy charge related to taking as much as $36,000 in cash bribes from Anthony while Savant was one of seven authority board members. He has yet to be sentenced, but faces five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Anthony pleaded guilty in March. He faces up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines on the single count of conspiracy to commit bribery and “honest services wire fraud.”

Anthony’s company, S.H. Anthony Inc., worked on a variety of construction jobs following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. It auctioned its equipment in a December sale.

Charges have focused on Anthony’s actions to gain and keep a contract to operate the authority’s sewer system. But the authority also spent large amounts of federal aid following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina to rebuild and expand its system. An Associated Press investigation found it took private property and spent recovery money to build sewage plants that may not be needed for decades. More than $230 million in federal money was set aside for water and sewer projects in Harrison County, the most populous on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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Follow Jeff Amy at: https://twitter.com/jeffamy

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