HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Attorneys for a Hattiesburg pastor are asking the court to acquit their client on fraud charges or order a new trial, citing taped conversations the defense said should not have been admissible in court.
A jury on Sept. 12 found Rev. Kenneth Fairley guilty of two counts of theft of government funds and one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, involving money received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through grants administered by the city of Hattiesburg.
Attorneys Sanford Knott, of Jackson, and Arnold Spencer, of Fort Worth, Texas, filed the motions Monday in U.S. District Court on behalf of the 62-year-old pastor.
Spencer wrote in the motion that he objected to the introduction of conversations recorded without Fairley’s knowledge, the Hattiesburg American reported (http://hatne.ws/2d9mU4G ).
The conversations were recorded by another man who was indicted with Fairley and not made available for cross examination.
The court was wrong to overrule multiple objections to allowing into evidence the recorded conversations with Fairley, Spencer argued, because the other man’s absence from cross examination violated Fairley’s Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser.
Without those tapes, there would not have been enough evidence to convict Fairley, the attorneys said.
Fairley’s sentencing is set for Dec. 23. He has been released on an unsecured bond and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge, and up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the two theft charges.
U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett, who presided over trial, and attorneys for the government have not yet filed responses to the motions.
Information from: The Hattiesburg American, http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com