Former DMR director Walker to plead guilty - - The News for South Mississippi

Former DMR director Walker to plead guilty

Bill Walker is scheduled to enter his guilty plea on March 10. Bill Walker is scheduled to enter his guilty plea on March 10.

The former director of the Department of Marine Resources will plead guilty to one federal charge of conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

Attorneys for Dr. Bill Walker filed a notice with U.S. District Court Wednesday that Walker will change his not guilty plea to guilty in the DMR corruption indictments brought in November.

Walker's plea change comes one day after his son Scott Walker agreed to plead guilty in that case and a second federal fraud case. The father and son have reached deals to avoid trial on multiple charges by pleading guilty to count one of the DMR indictment.

The Walkers will admit to fraud related to the sale of Ocean Springs land owned by Scott Walker to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain. The $210,000 land deal was funded with grant money administered by the DMR during the time Dr. Walker ran the department. Government prosecutors say Scott and Bill Walker benefited financially from the deal.

The Walkers faced five counts connected to the DMR investigation. Their deal to plead guilty to one charge means the others will be dropped.

Bill Walker is scheduled to enter his guilty plea on March 10. Scott Walker will change his plea Thursday. Scott Walker will also plead guilty in a separate federal fraud case brought against him and former D'Iberville City Manager Michael Janus.

Earlier this month Janus pleaded guilty to one count of fraud. Walker will admit to the same thing Thursday, saying he conspired with Janus to defraud the government by having the city of D'Iberville pay Walker's consulting firm $180,000 for allegedly securing a $3 million grant for the city.

Two others named in the DMR corruption indictment have pleaded not guilty. Tina Shumate and Joseph Ziegler worked under Dr. Bill Walker at the DMR. Both are accused of multiple crimes. Court records show the two have each requested individual trials.

It's unclear how the guilty pleas by Dr. Bill Walker will impact Shumate and Ziegler. As of Wednesday afternoon, no new court action has been filed on their behalf.

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