Former DMR Director, Others Indicted on Federal, State ChargesBy Evelina Burnett | Published 07 Nov 2013 08:24pm |
The former head of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and four others are scheduled to appear in federal court Friday morning after being indicted on five federal charges. MPB’s Evelina Burnett has details on the federal indictments, as well as state charges filed against five former DMR employees.
Former Department of Marine Resources head Bill Walker and three others are facing federal charges of fraud involving the state agency and a private foundation. Mississippi State Auditor Stacy Pickering says five former DMR employees were also indicted this week on state charges of fraud and embezzlement.
The eight-page federal indictment alleges that Walker, along with former DMR coastal planning director Tina Shumate and Walker’s son Scott Walker, transferred DMR funds that were used to buy property in which the Walkers had a financial stake.
Bill Walker is also alleged to have diverted state funds to a private foundation he started in 2004. The indictment says the Walkers and former DMR chief of staff, Joseph Zeigler, used those funds for their personal use or the use of others.
Pickering's office also issued civil demands totaling more than $1 million against 10 people, including Bill Walker.
Scott Walker and former Diberville city manager Michael Janus were also separately indicted on charges that included fraud and bribery. They are alleged to have created a false invoice for $180,000 in consulting services in connection with a $3 million grant awarded the city by the state Department of Environmental Quality.
None of the people indicted currently work at the DMR; Walker was fired earlier this year.
Melissa Scallan is a spokesperson for the state agency. She says the agency has cooperated fully with authorities throughout the more than one year investigation and is pleased the issue is moving towards a resolution.
"We just want to move forward and continue to do the work of this agency," she says.
The charges stem from a joint investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s office, the State Auditor’s office, and local district attorneys.
Copies of the state indictments are located on the State Auditor's website here.
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