DMR could soon take possession of controversial boats - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

DMR could soon take possession of controversial boats

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Two large boats that have been leased by the Department of Marine Resources for the past several years could soon belong to the agency. That's because a deal has been worked out between the DMR, the state auditors office, and the controversial foundation that actually owns the boats.

The Marine Resources Foundation has leased the two boats to the DMR at a cost of more than $1 million. 

"The insurance expires in June of this year and that would invalidate the lease from the contract," Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering said.

The foundation, headed up by Dr. Bill Walker, will now give the boats to the DMR, according to the auditor.

"They're working over the next seven to 10 days, as a foundation board, to legally transfer the ownership of these two boats to the Department of Marine Resources for the use of the taxpayers of Mississippi." 

Walker was also the director of the DMR until he was fired in January in the wake of federal and state auditor investigations into spending practices at the agency. So what happens next? 

"The agency has no intent to extend or renew any leases with these boats and does not intend to have any relationship with the foundation," said new DMR Director Jamie Miller.

The boats were used on fishing trips for state lawmakers, other elected officials and influential private citizens. Taxpayers in attendance, like Billy Bova, had questions of their own.  

"Can you cause these individuals to re-pay any money the Department of Marine Resources and state of Mississippi taxpayers expended on these trips?" Bova asked. 

Pickering had an answer.  

"Individuals who have enriched themselves at the taxpayer's expense have, under my first term and now my second term, have been held accountable and we'll continue to do so," Pickering said.  

Tuesday's announcement is the first time that Auditor Pickering has really spoken publicly about the investigation. Even though the boats are now being transferred, he said the investigation is far from over.

"As far as any issues of indictments down the road, that will be addressed at the appropriate time."

Officials in the auditor's office say it's a possibility the DMR could sell the two boats once the agency takes possession of them. The money could then be used to buy several badly needed law enforcement patrol boats to upgrade an aging fleet.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Main Alberto impacts expected to stay east of South MS

    Main Alberto impacts expected to stay east of South MS

    Sunday, May 27 2018 9:22 AM EDT2018-05-27 13:22:31 GMT
    Alberto official forecast track from the National Hurricane Center as of 4 AM 5-27-18Alberto official forecast track from the National Hurricane Center as of 4 AM 5-27-18

    Tropical Storm Watches remain in effect for Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties in South Mississippi. This means tropical storm force winds of 39 mph or greater are possible within 48 hours. 

    More >>

    Tropical Storm Watches remain in effect for Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties in South Mississippi. This means tropical storm force winds of 39 mph or greater are possible within 48 hours. 

    More >>
  • Moss Point Police searching for 'armed & dangerous' man

    Moss Point Police searching for 'armed & dangerous' man

    Saturday, May 26 2018 10:53 PM EDT2018-05-27 02:53:04 GMT
    Moss Point Police are warning Devarian Raheem Edwards should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. (Photo source: WLOX)Moss Point Police are warning Devarian Raheem Edwards should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. (Photo source: WLOX)

    A man police believe was involved in a multi-state crime spree that started with an auto theft and ended with capital murder is still on the run. And they're warning Devarian Raheem Edwards should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

    More >>

    A man police believe was involved in a multi-state crime spree that started with an auto theft and ended with capital murder is still on the run. And they're warning Devarian Raheem Edwards should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

    More >>
  • Prep or play? Boaters have to choose as Alberto moves closer

    Prep or play? Boaters have to choose as Alberto moves closer

    Saturday, May 26 2018 10:45 PM EDT2018-05-27 02:45:48 GMT
    Some boats have left the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor, others are preparing to ride out the storm if if comes this way. (Photo source: WLOX)Some boats have left the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor, others are preparing to ride out the storm if if comes this way. (Photo source: WLOX)
    Some boats have left the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor, others are preparing to ride out the storm if if comes this way.Some boats have left the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor, others are preparing to ride out the storm if if comes this way.

    Alberto is on its way. But the calm before the storm has given boat owners and people time to both prepare and enjoy some recreational time before the Memorial Day weekend gets cut short.

    More >>

    Alberto is on its way. But the calm before the storm has given boat owners and people time to both prepare and enjoy some recreational time before the Memorial Day weekend gets cut short.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly