Former DMR Director Walker Pleads Guilty In Federal CourtBy Evelina Burnett | Published 10 Mar 2014 04:24pm |
Former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources director Bill Walker could spend up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy.
Walker admitted in U.S. District Court on Monday to using federal grant money to buy property his son owned.
Prosecutors say Walker also had a stake in the Ocean Springs property, and arranged for the Department of Marine Resources to buy the land using a combination of federal grant and disaster money.
Walker has agreed to pay back the $210,000 spent on the property in restitution, as well as nearly $363,000 transferred from the marine agency to his private foundation.
Walker’s attorney William Kirksey said, "Dr. Walker some time ago recognized his situation, and did what a man would do - and that's came into this court room and acknowledged his wrongdoing and is prepared to pay for that."
Walker's son Scott pleaded guilty last month to the same charge of conspiracy. Scott Walker also admitted to submitting a false invoice for $180,000 to the city of D’Iberville in connection with a $3 million state grant. Former D’Iberville city manager Michael Janus has also pleaded guilty in that case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy said after court on MOnday: "We hope that, with the resolution of the case today against Dr. Walker, that is going to help restore confidence in the Department of Marine Resources for the citizens of south Mississippi, who have been affected most by the criminal acts of he and his son and Michael Janus."
Bill Walker will be sentenced June 5.
The conspiracy charge carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 dollar fine, plus up to three years supervised release.
Dowdy says the sentencing recommendation will likely include jail time.
Two other former DMR employees are also facing federal charges in the corruption investigation that has rocked the state marine agency. Their court date is set for June 2.
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