UPDATE: Ex-Panola exec 'depressed,' attorney asks time to file appeal


ABERDEEN – Former Panola County administrator David Chandler’s attorney asks a federal judge for more time to appeal his 2011 guilty plea, even though the deadline has passed.
Chandler, 58, pleaded guilty in to two federal counts that he defrauded the county in a garbage collection scheme and embezzled by paying himself overtime when he didn’t work it.
He took the plea deal to testify against defendants in another criminal case to avoid a 22-count indictment and its likely severe punishment.
Judge Sharion Aycock sentenced him to 14 months in prison, a $40,000 fine, restitution of $33,564 and 200 days of community service in Panola County.
Friday, Chandler’s attorney, Hiram Eastland of Greenwood, asked U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock to allow Chandler’s appeal even though it was about two weeks past the deadline.
Eastland’s motion says Chandler has “good cause” to be allowed the late appeal because he has been severely depressed and humiliated since his guilty plea.
During this depression, Chandler “completely lost sight of his control over the need for his decision to appeal his sentence within the required time to file a notice of appeal,” Eastland states. “Mr. Chandler actually did not even remember being advised of his right to appeal his sentence by the court” or again by his attorneys after he was sentenced in February.
Chandler was Panola County administrator and a former board chairman of the local hospital when he was indicted.
His deal for the plea bargain apparently was to cooperate and testify against two men, accused in a bribery-kickback scheme at Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville.
Ultimately, former Tri-Lakes CEO Ray Shoemaker of Tupelo and Batesville businessman Levi Garner were convicted on multiple charges, although the trial judge threw out Garner’s conviction and a couple of the charges against Shoemaker.
Because of Chandler’s “extraordinary cooperation,” against Shoemaker and Garner, Eastland writes, he urges the court to allow him to file the notice of appeal the two weeks after the March 29 deadline.
Chandler is due to report to prison in Yazoo City on April 22.

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