Billy Mcgee ran for election under the slogan “Unafraid to Lead,” now with between $1.5 million and $2 million in food being stolen at the jail in the last 12 years, McGee may need to consider a slogan change to “Unafraid to Feed.”
Jerry Woodland aka “Jerry Wayne,” the former cook at the Billy McGee detention center, is expected to plead guilty to one count defrauding the federal government and admit to conspiracy, mail fraud, and other crimes involving a 12 year food theft conspiracy at the detention facility. Woodland worked under the supervision of kitchen manager Alan Haralson, who has already pled guilty to the same single charge in the 12 year conspiracy.
A Hattiesburg Patriot source, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said Woodland would purchase the food from other conspirators at the jail at prices below market value. Stolen food was also used in local bars, sports bars, cookout teams, and catering companies affiliated with the conspirators.
Sources who wish to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution told the Hattiesburg Patriot that key conspirators in the theft ring would pull their vehicles up next to food delivery trucks at the jail and offload certain food items directly into their vehicles.
Given the nature of the plea deals, it is expected that both Haralson and Woodland will become key federal witnesses against other conspirators who work at higher levels at the Billy McGee Detention Center. Sources close to the investigation indicate that the conspiracy reaches the upper levels of leadership. The food theft was so out of control that the jail actually exceeded the legally allowed food cost limit of $6.00 per day per prisoner.
The Forrest County Sheriff Department’s attorney is local Hattiesburg attorney Jim Dukes. It is not clear why Mr. Dukes didn’t catch this legal violation while he was attorney for both the county and the jail. Also, according to Hattiesburg Patriot sources, Mr. Dukes has been called as a witness in the federal grand jury proceedings and will be unable to represent Charles “Plukey” Bolton or Billy McGee should either be prosecuted criminally in the conspiracy.
A video of Mr. Haralson leaving the Federal courthouse after pleading guilty can be seen by clicking here. Jerry woodland will be in court to plead guilty at 9:30am at the federal building. Documents related to his pleading are below.