Hattiesburg contractor pleads guilty to federal kickback scheme

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi office confirmed that Mike Miller of Hattiesburg pled guilty on September 15, 2014 to a kickback scheme which defrauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment in October 2013 against Miller, his company, Michael Miller Construction, LLC, and others. The parties were charged with various crimes including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, theft of government funds, and bid-rigging.

Others listed in the indictment were also charged with false statements. T.I. Pittman, Jr. owns multiple apartment complexes throughout the state of Mississippi which were funded by the USDA. Pittman, through his company Century Management, contracted with Mike Miller to work for one of Pittman's USDA-financed apartment complexes.

Prior to working for Century Management, Pittman told Miller that he would have to pay Pittman a kickback in order to be awarded contracts from Century Management. Miller agreed and began paying Pittman cash from the contracts he was awarded by Century Management.

As part of the conspiracy, Miller would pay Tim Pittman, T.L. Pittman, Jr.'s son, the kickback in cash with the understanding that it would be passed along to his father, T.L. Pittman, Jr.

Between February 2008 and November 2008, Miller submitted various false bids in the names of fictitious companies purporting to be legitimate bids competing with Miller's bid for work for Century Management at Liberty Place Apartments.

These false bids submitted by Miller were all higher than Miller's own bid., ensuring Miller was awarded the contract. As a result, Miller was awarded the contract for Liberty Place Apartments, and was ultimately paid more than $50,000 pursuant to the contract, some of which he used to kickback cash to T.L. Pittman Jr., through cash payments through Tim Pittman.

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