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Walnut Grove Mayor Pleads Guilty to Federal Witness Tampering

JACKSON, MS—William Grady Sims, 61, former mayor of Walnut Grove, Mississippi, pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to federal witness tampering, U.S. Attorney John Dowdy and FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen announced. Sims will be sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge David C. Bramlette, III, on April 24, 2012, at 10:30 a.m, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sims was the mayor of the town of Walnut Grove, Mississippi, having been elected to this position since 1981. In this role, he was one of the longest continually serving mayors in Mississippi, having served over 30 years. In October 2009, Sims became the Administrator or Warden of the Walnut Grove Transition Center in Walnut Grove. At the time, the Transition Center was a privately owned and operated facility which had contracted with the Mississippi Department of Corrections to house state inmates. In November 2009, Sims rented a motel room in Carthage, Mississippi, drove a female inmate in his custody from the Walnut Grove Transition Center to the motel room, and proceeded to have sex with her. During a federal grand jury investigation of the sexual encounter, Sims was recorded during several telephone calls with the female inmate instructing the inmate to lie to investigators and to say they had never had sex and had never been together in that motel room. Sims was subsequently interviewed by the FBI and admitted to having sex with the female inmate.

As part of the plea agreement, Sims was required to immediately resign his position as mayor of the Town of Walnut Grove, Mississippi, and to neither run for public office nor apply for or be employed by any governmental entity in the future.

U.S. Attorney Dowdy praised the efforts of special agents of the FBI in Jackson for their investigation of the case, the Leake County Sheriff’s Office, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Acting Chief of the Criminal Division, who is prosecuting the case.

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