Nowlin renews push to overturn ’07 guilty plea

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Former Ecru insurance man Ken Nowlin presses ahead in his three-year effort to have a federal court throw out his 2007 guilty plea.
Earlier this week, his attorneys filed a 21-page supplementary document, plus numerous other documents supporting their multiple contentions that Nowlin never was guilty of fraud or bribing then-Lafayette County Supervisor Gary Massey, who also was convicted in the 53-count prosecution.
They were accused of conspiring to defraud Lafayette County through Massey’s employment by Nowlin as a consultant to promote Nowlin’s insurance business with his connections.
Nowlin said he pleaded guilty in a leniency deal because his attorney, Tony Farese of Ashland, told him “he was without any possible defense” to the charges.
Farese said Thursday, as he said when the original motion was filed, that Nowlin’s allegations “are absolutely false and I vehemently deny them.”
In November 2008, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Nowlin’s sentence.
Nowlin began a 30-month prison sentence in March 2008 and paid $275,942 restitution. He was released from custody in December 2009 with another two years of supervised release.
He filed his initial motion to vacate or set aside his plea in December 2009 claiming Farese coerced him into pleading guilty, which he deemed “grossly ineffective” counsel.
In February 2011, his attorneys asked for an evidentiary hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills.
The new filing expands on earlier allegations that if Farese had more thoroughly investigated the case, he would have discovered the government’s allegations to be flawed and incorrect.
It also asks again for a hearing to present witnesses and evidence to prove his innocence.
Much of Nowlin and Massey’s convictions were based on the government’s contention that as a supervisor Massey had influence on contracts with Nowlin.
Nowlin’s filing insists evidence will show that his business arrangement with Massey was legal and that Nowlin did not have a contract for the county’s health insurance, only its third-party administrator.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com