A former top USDA official in Mississippi pleaded guilty for filing a false claim to get reimbursed for building a pond on his property in Hinds County.
Dr. Samuel Thornton of Alexandria, Virginia entered his plea in Jackson Monday before U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan.
He admitted he inflated the costs to build the pond for a goat grazing operation.
Last year, Thornton presented the keynote address during Hinds Community College's spring commencement.
He faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his sentencing September 1st.
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