Mississippi attorney admits he defrauded timber investors out of millions

Published 10:23 pm Thursday, July 14, 2022

A Mississippi attorney has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud investors in a multimillion-dollar timber investment scheme.

Jon Darrell Seawright, 50, of Jackson, entered the plea Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves.

Seawright’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 16. He faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

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U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Jermicha Fomby, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Jackson, announced Seawright’s plea said in a news release Thursday.

Seawright admitted that between 2011 and 2018, he and a co-conspirator took part in a scheme to defraud investors by soliciting millions of dollars under false pretenses and failing to use their money as promised, the release said.

In May 2021, federal prosecutors announced that Seawright and lobbyist Brent Alexander had been indicted on multiple charges tied to a scheme involving a fictitious lumber company. Court records show the indictment was sealed when it was issued in February 2021. After it was unsealed three months later, both men pleaded not guilty to all charges. The indictments alleged that Seawright and Alexander solicited more than $20 million from more than 50 investors.

Alexander’s trial is scheduled for Aug. 15.

The indictments alleged that from January 2011 through December 2018, Alexander and Seawright misled investors to believe they were purchasing timber on private land that was then resold to lumber mills for profit. Prosecutors said the two men were concealing that there were no real contracts for timber or lumber mills and that the “broker” was Madison Timber Properties LLC, a company wholly owned by Arthur Lamar Adams.

In October 2018, Adams was sentenced to 19½ years in federal prison on wire fraud charges in the timber scheme.

Prosecutors said in 2018 that more than 250 investors in at least 14 states lost money, and that at least 34 investors sustained “substantial financial hardship.” The minimum investment was generally $10,000, but some invested more.