By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
HOUSTON – A former manager for Penick Produce has pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzling more than half a million dollars from the company.
Howard Fisackerly, who now works at a sweet potato operation in North Carolina, entered his guilty pleas Friday in Chickasaw County Circuit Court. The other 19 counts of embezzlement and fraud leveled against Fisackerly were retired to the files.
In accepting Fisackerly’s plea agreement, Judge Andrew Howorth sentenced him to five years of probation and ordered him to pay court costs and $10,000 in restitution.
Fisackerly, responding to Howorth’s question, admitted that in May 2007 he embezzled $8,800 from Penick Produce for his own use.
He also pleaded guilty to another charge of embezzling $551,831.55 from Penick Produce.
While the criminal charges in circuit court have been done away with, Fisackerly has had his assets frozen and has charges pending in civil court.
In sentencing Fisackerly, Judge Howorth pointed out Mississippi’s habitual offender status would be invoked if Fisackerly is charged and later convicted of a third felony before his five-years of probation expires.
The sentence handed down by Howorth was part of a plea agreement reached with District Attorney Dan Creekmore earlier last week.
If Fisackerly had gone to trial and been found guilty, he could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on each count.
Fisackerly was employed as farm manager for Penick from 1999 to the fall of 2008.
Rob Langston, son-in-law of J.R. Penick, said Monday the family would pursue charges in civil court to recoup money they feel they have lost to Fisackerly.