BILOXI, Mississippi -- Former Biloxi Mayor Pete Halat is home after 15 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy that led to the 1987 slayings of a judge and the judge's wife. The 70-year-old was released from a federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana. Family friend and Coast restaurateur Bobby Mahoney says he thinks Halat was taken to a halfway house near Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
The slayings of Circuit Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife, Margaret, who was also a City Council member, took place in their home on September 14, 1987. Their bodies were found two days later. Sherry was a lawyer and Halat's law partner. He and Halat ran a criminal law practice in Biloxi at the time when the Dixie Mafia held sway over the area, including several seedy strip clubs that had brothels.
Halat had a large Dixie Mafia clientele and was a big-time player in the illegal gambling industry in the Gulf South. Among his clients was Kirksey Nix, a reputed Dixie Mafia boss who was serving life in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for murder and bank fraud.
Nix and Halat were involved in a Lonely Hearts scam that targeted homosexual men by personal ads and letters. After Nix lost thousands of dollars from the scheme, he blamed the loss on Sherry. Nix and Halat hired a hit man named Thomas Holcomb to kill Sherry and his wife. WLBT was the first station in the nation to break this story, and we helped a sordid chapter of Gulf history come to light.