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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 30, 1997

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

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 new trial.

   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 Independent Counsel.

PRESS CONTACT: Charles G. Bakaly, III (703) 706-0010 ext. 166

 

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