HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Former Biloxi Mayor, Pete Halat Jr., Is a free man today. He was released last year from a nearly 16-year prison sentence for federal crimes. Wednesday he made his last steps out of a halfway home in Hattiesburg.
Now lets rewind back to the 1980s. Dixie Mafia Kingpin Kirksey Nix and other inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary were running a lonely-hearts telephone scam. The inmates would pay guards in order to use the phones so they could place bogus adds in homosexual publications saying they were looking for a partner to live with. They would then extort money from those who responded to the ad.
The scam racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars, which the Dixie mob entrusted to their lawyer Pete Halat, who later become Mayor of Biloxi and spent the money. When the crooks came looking for the cash, Halat put the blame one his old law partner, Vincent Sherry, who was now a sitting State Circuit Court Judge. According to the court testimonies, Halat knew Nix placed a hit on Sherry but said nothing. Sherry and his wife were murdered at their home in 1987.
The federal investigation lasted eight years. Finally in1996 Halat was convicted of wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to commit racketeering. Nix and the hit man each got life sentences.