Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced the judicial confirmation of the penalties imposed on local developer David Watkins for violating the the Mississippi Securities Act in a project to renovate the Belk building in the Metrocenter Mall.
Photo by Tim Summers Jr..
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Court of Appeals judges are considering whether a Jackson developer who was ordered to pay more than $600,000 for securities violations must post an appeals bond while he tries to overturn that ruling.
Three judges heard arguments Wednesday from attorneys representing developer David Watkins and from lawyers for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.
Requiring Watkins to post an appeal bond is "the only way to sufficiently protect the taxpayers," Jim Smith, representing Hosemann, said.
Watkins' attorney, Brad Pigott, said Watkins was financially ruined by Hosemann's "three years of crusading" and has no assets. Watkins and his wife recently lost their house, Pigott said, and Watkins could not afford thousands of dollars for an appeal bond.
It was Hosemann who initiated an administrative proceeding against Watkins for alleged securities violations. A hearing officer found that Watkins committed financial misdeeds by diverting money intended for redevelopment of part of Metrocenter Mall in Jackson and using it for renovation of a police department building in Meridian.
The state appeals court ruled in June that Watkins and his company, Watkins Development LLC, must repay $587,000 in misused bond money, plus $75,000 in fines.
Watkins' appeal seeks a rehearing.
"He wishes to restore his reputation," Pigott said.
Appeals Court judges Joe Lee, Virginia Carlton and Eugene Fair did not say when they would rule on the question of the appeal bond.