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March 21, 1997




Donald C. Smaltz, Independent Counsel In Re Espy, announced:

   A federal jury in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia today found defendant JACK L. WILLIAMS guilty of two counts of making false statements to federal investigators.

   The jury found Mr. Williams (a Washington, D.C. lobbyist for Tyson Foods, Inc.) guilty of making false statements to agents of the Office of the Inspector General, USDA, in March 1994 in order to conceal his role in providing various things of value, including an airline ticket in the amount of $1,009 and scholarship money totaling $1,200 from Tyson Foods, Inc., for the benefit of Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy.

   The jury also convicted Mr. Williams of making similar false statements to special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in June 1994, when it was publicly reported that the investigation of Secretary Espy for receiving illegal gratuities was reaching a critical stage, during which the Department of Justice was deciding whether to pursue or drop the Espy inquiry.

   Mr. Williams could be sentenced to a maximum term of five years' imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 per count. Judge James Robertson, who presided over the five-day trial, has set a sentencing date of June 5, 1997.

   Mr. Smaltz stated:

      "I want to thank the jury for its time, attention, and full and impartial consideration of all of the evidence. This verdict demonstrates that the jury was not fooled by the defense's attempts to discredit the nature and substance of the investigators' questions to Mr. Williams.

      This office has and will continue to prosecute instances where individuals lie to federal law enforcement agents.

      The trial evidence revealed that Mr. Williams made false statements on each occasion on which he was asked about his involvement in making travel arrangements and providing things of value to Secretary Espy and his girlfriend. Cleta Selman, the personal secretary to Don Tyson, Tyson Foods, Inc.'s Senior Chairman, testified that she and Williams discussed Espy's and Dempsey's travel arrangements to Dallas, Texas to attend a football game with Don Tyson. Further, John Tyson, Don Tyson's son, testified that Williams was involved in arranging a Tyson foundation scholarship for Dempsey's girlfriend."

The Independent Counsel's investigation is ongoing.


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