Neilson trial back after holiday break

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – Sparks may fly today in Day 4 of Oxford FBI agent Hal Neilson’s trial in U.S. District Court.
Prosecutors are expected to re-question Steven Gomez, Neilson’s former agency supervisor, using character-related information taken from a sealed report.
Wednesday, as the court day was drawing to a close, government attorney Richard Bourgeois Jr. asked Gomez if he would change his positive opinions about Neilson, if he knew otherwise from an investigation of Neilson’s actions during “Second Hand Smoke.”
“Second Hand Smoke” is the FBI’s name for a multi-state undercover probe into a blackmarket tobacco ring, which had warehouses in Lee County. Neilson led the operation into its activities.
Two days ago, Gomez testified he had no reason to question Neilson’s truthfulness and trustworthiness.
Defense attorneys Christi R. McCoy of Oxford and Ronald Michael of Booneville had the Veterans Day holiday to decide how to react today.
Neilson, 49, is accused in a five-count indictment of lying about his financial interests in an Oxford building, which houses the FBI and two other agencies.
He is a partner in C&G Properties LLC, which owns the building, and will claim he received verbal permission from the Jackson FBI’s top legal counsel for that participation, called an outside position.
If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 25 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine.
Prosecutors Rene Salomon and Bourgeois are directing the government’s case.
So far, their witnesses have been Patrick Kelly, the FBI’s top ethics official; John Covington, Neilson’s C&G business partner; William Jeffreys, a Renasant Bank official; and Hogan Allen, a Jackson CPA.
Covington testified under a government deal to avoid prosecution if he told the truth.
Once the government rests its case, the defense will take over before a 12-member jury.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.