By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – Former funeral home operators Marie and Michael Salts face new charges they engineered a scheme to acquire a Tupelo home through a straw buyer.
Marie Salts, 50, waived a personal appearance Wednesday in federal court and pleaded not guilty to the two-count indictment. Michael Salts, 61, continues serving a 15-year state sentence.
In 2003, they were indicted in Prentiss County on six counts of embezzlement of pre-need burial policy premiums through their funeral home in Booneville.
They were convicted on three counts of felony embezzlement and one misdemeanor count. But in March 2010, the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Mississippi ordered their convictions thrown out, agreeing the pair was unconstitutionally convicted.
However, the case remains with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans about whether the charges should be vacated.
Marie’s jail time ran its course, but her husband, Michael, 61, remains a state prisoner serving time until June 2018.
The new federal indictment, dated Sept. 21 but just made public, charges them with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
The government claims that after the couple’s 1111 Belle Deer Drive home in Tupelo burned to the ground, they wanted to buy one priced about $438,125 at 2832 Edinburgh Park Lane, but they couldn’t get financing.
So, the indictment states, they used Roy Clark, who isn’t charged, to apply for the loan and buy the house on their behalf.
The government says the Saltses lived in the house after its purchase about Jan. 25, 2008, until they were jailed later that year.
Clark reportedly was left holding the bag on the loan closing and loan payments.
If convicted on the new charges, they each face up to 40 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
For more details, read Wednesday’s Daily Journal.