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NOVEMBER 19, 1996




Donald C. Smaltz, Independent Counsel In Re Espy, today made the following statement:

   A federal grand jury in Biloxi, Mississippi, returned a three count indictment against Norris Faust, Jr., the current Mississippi State Executive Director of the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Faust is charged with three counts of lying to a federal grand jury sitting in Jackson on August 28 and 29, 1996.

   Faust, 46, and a native of Lambert, Mississippi, was appointed to the position of State Executive Director of FSA on March 8, 1993. Prior to that time Faust has served as a County Supervisor from Tunica County, Mississippi.

   The indictment charges that Faust gave perjurious testimony before the federal grand jury regarding his knowledge of and role in changing a state regulation requiring the reporting of persons listed on farm operating plans who had outside interests other than the farming operation. The questions asked of Faust also focused on the role of two others in striking down the regulation: Brooke Keith Mitchell, Sr., a 1993 appointee to the State Executive Committee, and the Chief of Staff to former Secretary of Agriculture Espy.

   Mitchell was convicted on November 13, 1996, in United States District Court in the District of Columbia of fraudulently collecting more than $700,000 in crop subsidies from the USDA. Mitchell and his farming company, Five M Farming Enterprises entered guilty pleas to four counts of conspiracy, making false statements to obtain farm deficiency payments, making false statements to the USDA and submitting false entries in books and records.

   The indictment returned against Faust today alleges that Mitchell had been in a dispute with USDA regarding the extent of the involvement of his sons, who were full-time college students, in the family farm business. While Mitchell was seeking to recover the payments denied to him, Faust in his capacity as Mississippi State Executive Director, signed an order eliminating the regulation which would have required Mitchell's sons to disclose that they were students.

   If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Faust could be imprisoned for up to 15 years and fined as much as $750,000 or both.

   An arraignment date will be scheduled as soon as possible before the United States Magistrate Judge in Jackson, Mississippi.

   The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The Independent Counsel's investigation is ongoing.

NOTE: Copies of the Indictment are available from the Office of Independent Counsel.


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