Balducci sentenced
by Denise Strub
Mar 05, 2014 | 2516 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Linda Balducci, former executive director of Southeastern Development Opportunities, Inc. located in Shelby, has been sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Mills in Oxford.

Balducci was connected with an embezzlement and bribery scheme related to federal grant funds and the construction of community housing projects in the Mississippi Delta.

In court on Feb. 28, Balducci pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and the judge dismissed two counts against Balducci on motion of the United States.

She was sentenced to a year of probation and order to pay an assessed lump sum of $100 no later than March 27 and a restitution lump sum of $89,400 no later than April 28.

In addition, she must submit drug testing and DNA collection as directed by the probation officer.

She is also not allowed to own a firearm or other dangerous weapon, nor is she allowed to commit another crime.

Special conditions under her supervision dictate that she provide the probation officer with access to any requested financial information and that she not incur any new credit charges or open additional lines of credit with approval.

Southeastern Development Opportunities Inc. was a non-profit organization founded by Balducci in April of 1993.

Over the years, the organization had obtained state and federal grants used to construct housing for low-income residents in the region. 

Balducci and co-defendant Connie Lewis of Jackson were indicted in 2012 by a federal grand jury on three counts of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and embezzlement of public monies. 

Earlier this year Balducci announced her intention to enter a change of plea.

In the first count of the indictment, the U.S. charged that Balducci conspired with the late Jimmy Stokes, owner of Stokes Construction Company, and others to "steal, embezzle, and convert money to her own use without authority, which was the property of the United States with a value in excess of $1,000."

The money in question came from a grant issued by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Mississippi Development Authority to construct an apartment complex in Isola. 

The indictment stated that Balducci "used her position as executive director to obtain the grant and award the building contract to Stokes. Stokes then intentionally and fraudulently submitted a change order request in the amount of $279,000 to dig a drainage ditch in connection with the project.

Counts two and three of the indictment claim that Balducci and Stokes made kickbacks to each other in the amount of $89,400.