By Julia James
The state accepted the guilty pleas of Nancy and Zach New in Mississippi’s sprawling welfare scandal on Tuesday — a move that makes their agreement to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against their co-defendants official.
The News had submitted their guilty pleas for the state charges last week.
Nancy New, a 69-year-old former educator, is pleading guilty to four counts of bribing a public official, two counts of fraud against the government, six counts of wire fraud and one count of racketeering. Her deal comes with a total maximum sentence of 100 years, but prosecutors have recommended that the state sentence her to equal or lesser time than her federal sentence, once federal sentencing has occurred.
In other words, state prosecutors recommend Nancy New serve her entire sentence in federal prison — allowing her to avoid serving time in the more barbaric state prisons — and serve no additional time for the state charges above what she serves in the federal case. She pleaded guilty in the federal case earlier last week to one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years.
READ MORE: Nancy and Zach New plead guilty to bribery and fraud in state welfare case
Zach New, the 39-year-old vice president of his mother’s nonprofit, pleaded guilty to the same charges, minus racketeering and one less count of wire fraud. State prosecutors have offered him the same deal to serve only the number of years he receives in the separate federal case. He pleaded guilty in the federal case to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which comes with a maximum sentence of five years.
Prosecutors split off Zach’s charge in a separate bill of information, a document that is filed when a defendant agrees to plead guilty without the grand jury handing down an indictment, to ensure that Zach would be able to serve his time in federal prisons.
Both Nancy and Zach New have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against their co-defendants. Both state and federal criminal investigations are ongoing and could result in charges against additional people, sources close to the probes say.
READ MORE: Phil Bryant had his sights on a payout as welfare funds flowed to Brett Favre
This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.