Bill Walker, the former executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, and nine other people have been indicted on state and federal charges related to an ongoing investigation into the state agency's spending.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering issued the following statement:
GULFPORT, Miss.- Federal and state grand juries returned indictments this week following a joint investigation into the activities of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (“DMR”) and a $3 million grant issued to the City of D’Iberville, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis, FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen, Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Second Circuit District Attorney Joel Smith and Nineteenth Circuit District Attorney Tony Lawrence. The State Auditor’s Office also issued civil demands totaling more than $1 million.
William W. Walker, 68, of Ocean Springs, Scott J. Walker, 34, of Ocean Springs, Sheila Tina Shumate, 52, of Saucier, and Joseph C. Zeigler, Jr., 66, of Gulfport, have been named in a five-count federal indictment, returned on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, charging conspiracy to commit federal program fraud, federal program fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud involving DMR and the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation.
Scott J. Walker is also named in a separate federal indictment along with Michael Janus, age 47, of Biloxi, charging conspiracy to commit program fraud, program fraud, bribery in connection with a federal program and money laundering. The indictment alleges that Walker and Janus caused a false invoice in the amount of $180,000 to be submitted to the City of D’Iberville for payment of consulting services.
A Harrison County grand jury returned indictments this week against Sheila Tina Shumate, Leslie Young Gollott, Susan Perkins, Jere Grant Larsen, Jr. and Kerwin Cuevas for multiple counts of fraud and embezzlement which allegedly occurred during their employment with the Department of Marine Resources.
In addition, the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office issued demands against ten individuals as part of this investigation totaling $1,022,308.55. The individual demands are listed below:
William Walker- $362,689.14 Joseph Ziegler- $258,268.75 Sheila Shumate- $127,608.57 Leslie Gollott- $117,593.10 Susan Perkins- $ 30,959.34 Grant Larson- $1,342.08 Kerwin Cuevas- $108,420.70 Walter Chataginer- $1,279.85 Kerry Endris- $13,020.66 Samantha Hebert- $1,126.36 “The indictments and demands announced today are one step toward restoring the trust of taxpayers, but they do not close the investigation,” State Auditor Stacey Pickering said. “As alleged in the indictments, these men and women abused their positions, stole from the taxpayers of Mississippi, and they will be held accountable for their actions. I appreciate the hard work and cooperation from the local, state and federal agencies involved including our Special Agents, District Attorneys Joel Smith and Tony Lawrence, Gregory Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, and Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
The public is reminded that an indictment is an allegation that a defendant has committed a crime. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.