HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - Friday, Scott Walker will become a father for the second time. Thursday he became a confessed felon, by pleading guilty to two federal conspiracy and fraud charges in U.S. District Court. Walker was indicted in November in separate federal cases alleging he conspired with others for personal financial gain. Walker told WLOX News pleading guilty "was the only choice."
Walker, who once ran for Mayor of Ocean Springs, now faces up to 15 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. He will be sentenced May 6.
Walker admitted he conspired with his father, the former of the Department of Marine Resources, Dr. Bill Walker, to divert federal grant money to purchase property they owned in Ocean Springs. The property was purchased for $210,000 with money administered through the DMR while Bill Walker was director of the agency. Bill Walker, indicted with his son and two others, has agreed to plead guilty to the same charge next month.
Bill Walker and his wife, Sharon, accompanied their son to court Thursday. When the proceedings concluded, the father admitted, "It's a tough time. Obviously it's a pretty stunning day. We're here to support our son and his family."
Bill Walker said he could not comment on his pending plea deal.
Scott Walker's second guilty plea Thursday was an admission he defrauded the City of d'Iberville by creating and submitting a false invoice charging the city $180,000 for consulting services never performed. That invoice was paid by the city at the direction of then city manager Michael Janus who pleaded guilty to the fraud earlier this month.
"Today's guilty plea concludes a significant case of fraud committed against the City of D'Iberville," said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis. "Today's guilty plea also takes us one step closer to holding accountable those who, through the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, fraudulently diverted and misused both federal grants and money belonging to the State of Mississippi."
During the 45 minute hearing before U.S. Magistrate Keith Starrett, it was revealed that Scott Walker rejected a plea deal federal prosecutors offered him in October.
As part of his plea agreement, Scott Walker will testify against two former DMR employees. Tina Shumate and Joseph Ziegler face separate charges connected to actions at the DMR when they worked for Bill Walker. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Tina Shumate's lawyer, Tim Holleman attended Walker's court hearing. Holleman told WLOX News he still plans to go to trial and feels confident for his client.
Walker will remain free on bond until he is sentenced.
"It's a tough day," Walker told WLOX News, but remained upbeat, choosing to focus on his wife Trinity and children, "Our second son is coming tomorrow so there are good things."
Bill Walker is scheduled to enter his guilty plea before Judge Starrett on March 10.