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|Fields pleaded to felony in 2001|
One of four men running for mayor of Winnsboro pleaded guilty to a felony in 2001 for filing false public records, but he maintains he was an innocent man.
Deacue Fields was originally charged in state court with malfeasance in office, conspiracy and money laundering and filing false public records. The charges stemmed from his tenure as deputy elections commissioner under former Elections Commissioner Jerry Fowler. Fowler served as elections commissioner from 1980-2000. Fowler was indicted by a federal grand jury after leaving office. He was convicted for bribery and tax evasion and served time in federal prison. He died in January 2009.
Fields says he never committed the crime for which he pleaded guilty. He said the charges brought against him were false and meant to compel him to testify against Fowler.
"The charges were to make me testify," Fields said. "I didn't know what the individual was doing, so I couldn't testify."
The malfeasance in office and conspiracy and money laundering charges against Fields were dropped in lieu of his guilty plea to filing false public records. He received a year of probation as part of his plea agreement. After completing the sentence he received a first offenders pardon, which is routinely granted to first-time felony offenders.
The pardon verification was filed in Franklin Parish in February 2002.
"It wasn't a matter of me trying to hide anything," Fields said. "I filed the pardon and it was put in The Franklin Sun."
The incident was in the past, Fields said, and he would like to concentrate on the future.
He hopes the election will remain a clean fight.
"I won't say anything derogatory about any candidate. I'm only concerned about progress in Winnsboro."
A candidate for the March 27 primary election, Fields will face Jackie Johnson, Ken Hill and Leroy Scott. They are vying to succeed Mayor Jack Hammons, who died late last week.