Carolina tobacco case returns to Mississippi

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Wilton Leon Holley’s contraband tobacco case returns to Mississippi after a South Carolina court said it didn’t have enough information to decide if his 33-month sentence should be reduced.
Holley, 69, of Anderson, S.C., pleaded guilty in January 2011 to two counts that he bilked the U.S., Mississippi, South Carolina and other states out of taxes and fees due from illegal cigarette sales.
His case, which originated with a 2010 indictment in the Northern District of Mississippi, was transferred to his home state soon after he agreed to plead guilty.
In exchange for his plea deal, he agreed to cooperate with the government about what he knew of the multistate tobacco scheme and individuals involved.
But on Jan. 13, federal prosecutors filed under seal a motion to reduce his sentence, saying all it knew about his cooperation was what was in the motion.
“More details were needed,” the court told the government.
During a March 29 hearing on the motion, an assistant U.S. attorney told the court that new information he had conflicted with information originally given to him about Holley’s cooperation.
In light of “the limited facts available,” Senior U.S. District Judge G. Ross Anderson Jr. allowed the government to withdraw its motion for leniency and granted Holley’s motions to nullify his sentence and guilty plea.
Thus, Anderson said, a transfer back to Northern Mississippi is warranted, consented to by both parties and approved by his court.
Holley’s case is one of several brought since early 2009 through the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oxford related to expansive black-market tobacco schemes to avoid federal and state taxes.
The first focused on a Tupelo-based tobacco distribution company.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com