SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - You can call it an end to a dark chapter for one state organization. On Friday Tina Shumate, the last major player that was still free from the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) corruption scandal was sentenced to two years in jail. Her sentencing came after she admitted to embezzling hundreds of dollars while serving as Coastal Management and Planning Director for DMR. WLOX News was there as the judge announced his decision.
Family, friends and even Shumate's own doctor walk into her plea hearing at the Harrison County Circuit Court in Biloxi.
A handful of them came before Judge Roger Clark describing her as an outstanding person who is the product of a strong family and one who married into another strong family. They also talked about her non-existent criminal record and her love for community and Mississippi. They asked the judge to take all that into account prior to her sentencing.
"My sister's character stood strong here and she's done a great job for the state of Mississippi. She clearly made a mistake here and she says that. And she is going to pay the ultimate price for that. I dare say I've seen a sentence this harsh that's going to be paid by someone for these two small amounts," said Shumate's brother Curt Herbert.
Shumate confessed that in 2009 she signed false documents related to DMR travel on two separate occasions and received a total of $350 for repayment of expenses that were not actually incurred.
"This was a difficult case. It was difficult to see Tina plead to anything in these cases. We went through exhaustive records and everything and these two charges were actually two counts were she had signed the vouchers and she had not incurred those expenses," said Tim Holleman who is Shumate's attorney.
Tina's doctor told Judge Clark about a serious medical condition Shumate has, however in the end the judge said he couldn't ignore her violations of the law because of her health.
He accepted the state's recommendation and sentenced her to two years in prison followed by four years of post release supervision. She's also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and $14,091.11 in restitution. Shumate also faces federal charges of conspiracy and fraud.