Donald C. Smaltz, Independent Counsel In Re Espy, today made the following statement:
A District of Columbia Grand Jury returned a four-count Superseding
Indictment against Jack L. Williams. The Superseding Indictment charges Mr.
Williams in his capacity as the Washington, D.C. lobbyist for Tyson Foods, Inc. with
giving things of value to and for the benefit of former Secretary of Agriculture Mike
Espy, and an Acting Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, with an intent to influence them
in violation of the Meat Inspection Act of 1907, 21 United States Code § 622 (Counts One
and Two), and with lying to federal investigators to cover up his actions in violation of
18 United States Code § 1001 (Counts Three and Four).
In Count One Mr. Williams is charged with giving a weekend trip to Dallas, Texas
to Secretary of Agriculture Espy and his girlfriend to attend an NFL playoff game as the
guests of Tyson Foods in January 1994 valued at $1,119, with intent to influence Secretary
Espy in the performance of his duties in violation of the Meat Inspection Act. Count Two
charges that Williams in February 1994 gave to the then-Acting Assistant Secretary in
charge of regulating Tyson's business, with intent to influence her, a ticket to Tyson
Foods' skybox to attend a University of Arkansas basketball game (valued at $13) and an
upgrade sticker (valued at $84) to convert the USDA official's coach class airline ticket
to first- class seating so that she could sit next to him on a flight from Arkansas to
Washington, D.C. If convicted under these counts, he faces a mandatory minimum of one year
and a maximum of three years imprisonment for each count.
Count Three alleges that Williams, in March 1994, lied to agents of
the USDA Office of Inspector General when he told them he had heard only through rumor and
news reports that the Secretary of Agriculture was a guest of Tyson Foods at the Dallas
Cowboys football game on January 16, 1994. The count alleges that in fact Williams paid
for the airline tickets for the Secretary of Agriculture's girlfriend so she and the
Secretary could attend the game as guests of Tyson Foods -- in Tyson's skybox -- and that
Williams had discussed her flight itinerary with Don Tyson's personal secretary.
Count Four charges that in June 1994, when the Federal Bureau of
Investigation questioned Mr. Williams concerning his knowledge and involvement in the
giving of things of value to Secretary Espy, he stated that: he did not remember talking
to Secretary Espy's girlfriend on the telephone at any time, and certainly not to make
travel or other arrangements for her or Secretary Espy; he did not have her telephone
number; he did not know where she was employed; and he had no prior knowledge of Secretary
Espy's attendance at the Dallas Cowboys game on January 16, 1994. The count alleges that
in fact Williams, in December 1993, had faxed a Tyson Foods scholarship application to the
Secretary's girlfriend at her office; in January 1994 he called the Secretary's girlfriend
at her office; in January 1994 he charged the round trip airline tickets for the
Secretary's girlfriend's Dallas trip on his Visa credit card; in January 1994 he had his
limousine driver deliver the tickets to her office; and the Secretary's girlfriend used
the airline tickets to travel to Dallas to attend the Dallas Cowboys football game. If
convicted under these counts, Williams could be sentenced to a maximum of up to five years
in prison for each count.
Previously, Mr. Williams was indicted on September 17, 1996 for two
counts of making false statements to federal investigators and, following a jury trial in
the District of Columbia on March 21, 1997, was convicted on both counts. Subsequently, on
June 11, 1997, the Honorable James Robertson, the trial judge, granted Williams' motion
for a new trial. Counts Three and Four in the Superseding Indictment are the same counts
for which Williams was previously convicted in March 1997, and for which he was granted a
The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are only
accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The Independent Counsel's investigation is ongoing.
Copies of the Superseding Indictment are available from the Office of
PRESS CONTACT: Charles G. Bakaly, III (703) 706-0010 ext. 166