Judge denies Nowlin’s appeals

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Former Ecru insurance businessman Ken Nowlin’s efforts to clear his name were rejected over the weekend by a federal court judge.
Nowlin and then-Lafayette County supervisor Gary Massey were indicted in May 2007 on federal charges they conspired over the county’s health insurance business.
Nowlin’s firm held the insurance administration contract, and Massey worked for Nowlin as a consultant.
Nowlin pleaded guilty to one count and agreed to testify at trial against Massey. Massey later cut a plea deal, and they both went to prison, Nowlin for 30 months.
In November 2008, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Nowlin’s conviction.
Nowlin filed his motion to vacate his conviction and sentence in 2009. Massey never appealed his 36-month sentence.
Posted publicly Monday, Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills denied Nowlin’s push to have his sentence and conviction vacated.
In his appeal, Nowlin insisted he was actually innocent and got ineffective counsel from his attorney, Tony Farese of Ashland. Farese maintains this is not true.
Nowlin also claimed Massey had permission to work for him, that neither of them could influence insurance rates at issue and neither took an overt act to further the conspiracy.
“Nowlin’s arguments would be plausible,” Mills writes in the 13-page opinion, “except every one of them is undermined by his testimony before the grand jury” and in documents he signed and during his plea hearing testimony.
In his plea hearing, Nowlin testified that he knew the payments were contrary to Mississippi law. He also conceded he paid Massey $551,000 to do “very little” consulting work.
The judge termed Nowlin’s accusations of ineffective counsel as “without merit” as he dismissed the motion.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com