HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - Sixty months in prison. That's how long the former Executive Director of Mississippi's Department of Marine Resources will have to spend behind bars for his role in a major corruption scandal that also took down several DMR employees, a city manager, and the director's own son. And it's the maximum sentence he could have received.
Dr. Bill Walker must also pay more than $570,000 in restitution and a fine of $125,000.
Dr. Walker pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy connected to the sale of property he owned with his son, Scott Walker, who will be sentenced July 23rd.
Scott Walker pleaded guilty to the same fraud charge linked to former D'Iberville City Manager Michael Janus. Earlier Monday, Janus was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay $180,000 in restitution to the City of D'Iberville for his role in the scandal. The judge ordered those restitution payments to begin immediately, but waived a $50,000 fine.
Janus admitted to taking part in a scheme to obtain a $180,000 finders fee for a company he co-owned with Scott Walker. Walker also admitted he committed fraud in a deal to sell land to the "Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain" with money administered by the Department of Marine Resources.
Janus said after the sentencing that he takes "full responsibility for my actions." He has 60 days to report to lock up. Until then, he will remain free on his original bond.
During sentencing, the judge told Janus, "This was a bad decision and you are paying the price. Life is not over for you, but it will be interrupted."
D'Iberville's current City Manager, Bobby Eleuterius, told WLOX News this has been a difficult time for the city and all involved.
"This was well underway when I came to work for the City and we have worked hard to put this behind us," Eleuterius said. "The future looks bright. Interstate retail development, gaming and our downtown and major projects will remain our focus."
Following Monday's sentencings, current DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller told WLOX News, "The employees at the agency have moved forward and continue to be committed to the important work of managing Mississippi's marine resources."