(Left to right) Michael Janus, Bill Walker, and Scott Walker
(Left to right) Shumate, Cuevas, Gollott, Larsen, Perkins (Photo source: Harrison Co. Sheriff's Dept.)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -
Former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Bill Walker, his son, Scott Walker, and former D'Iberville City Manager Michael Janus have all been indicted on state and federal charges, according to documents released to the public Thursday.
Five other former DMR employees are also charged with crimes. And the State Auditor's Office is demanding ten individuals pay back more than a million dollars in public funds.
Federal and state grand juries returned indictments this week following a joint investigation into the activities of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and a $3 million grant issued to the City of D'Iberville.
William W. Walker, 68, of Ocean Springs, Scott J. Walker, 34, of Ocean Springs, Sheila Tina Shumate, 52, of Saucier, and Joseph C. Zeigler, Jr., 66, of Gulfport, were named in a five-count federal indictment, returned on Tuesday, November 5.
They're charged with conspiracy to commit federal program fraud, federal program fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud involving DMR and the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation.
Scott J. Walker is also named in a separate federal indictment along with Michael Janus, 47, of Biloxi, charging conspiracy to commit program fraud, program fraud, bribery in connection with a federal program and money laundering.
The indictment alleges that Walker and Janus caused a false invoice in the amount of $180,000 to be submitted to the City of D'Iberville for payment of consulting services.
A Harrison County grand jury returned indictments this week against Sheila Tina Shumate, Leslie Young Gollott, Susan Perkins, Jere Grant Larsen, Jr. and Kerwin Cuevas for multiple counts of fraud and embezzlement which allegedly occurred during their employment with the Department of Marine Resources.
"The indictments and demands announced today are one step toward restoring the trust of taxpayers, but they do not close the investigation," State Auditor Stacey Pickering said. "As alleged in the indictments, these men and women abused their positions, stole from the taxpayers of Mississippi, and they will be held accountable for their actions."
As part of the investigation, the Mississippi State Auditor's Office issued demands against the following individuals:
Sheila "Tina" Shumate
"I appreciate the hard work and cooperation from the local, state and federal agencies involved including our Special Agents, District Attorneys Joel Smith and Tony Lawrence, Gregory Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, and Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation," Pickering said.
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