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Tyson lobbyist found guilty

A lobbyist for Tyson Foods, the nation's largest poultry producer, was convicted Friday of twice lying to investigators about providing favors to former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy.

The guilty verdict against Jack L. Williams was announced by the jury in U.S. District Court after four hours of deliberations. Judge James Robertson set June 5 for sentencing and released Williams on his personal recognizance.

Williams was convicted of two counts of making false statements. He could be sentenced to five years in prison and fined up to $250,000 on each count.

Donald C. Smaltz, independent counsel in the Espy investigation, said the verdict demonstrates the jury was not swayed by defense attempts to discredit the questioning of Williams by government investigators.

"This office has and will continue to prosecute instances where individuals lie to federal law enforcement agents," he added. "The independent counsel's investigation is ongoing."

Williams' attorney, Barry Levine, said that the verdict was not supported by the evidence and that he would move to have it dismissed. If it is not, Levine said he would appeal.

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