State, federal charges in Miss. govt. agency probe

AP News
Posted: Nov 07, 2013 5:41 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The former director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, his son, and two others have been indicted on federal corruption charges involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money.

That indictment — and another involving a former city manager in south Mississippi — were unsealed Thursday, not long after five former MDMR employees were indicted on state charges.

One federal indictment charged the agency's former director, Bill Walker, 68, of Ocean Springs, and his son, 34-year-old Scott Walker, and two former agency employees.

Among the allegations, the indictment said the Walkers conspired with one other person to use MDMR's money to buy land in which the Walkers had a financial interest and also allegedly embezzled $210,000. Another federal indictment unsealed Thursday charged Scott Walker and another person who was a former city manager for the city of D'Iberville with the fraudulent use of about $180,000 in public money.

The department was created in 1994 to oversee programs related to Mississippi's interests in and along the Gulf of Mexico, including seafood safety, boating, coastal wetlands and tidelands protection. With 144 employees, it is among the smaller agencies in Mississippi government and has a current budget of about $10.8 million.

The indictments were the culmination of a lengthy investigation that had already resulted in a shakeup in the leadership of the agency.

Bill Walker was fired from MDMR in January, after leading the agency since 2002. Reached by phone at his home Thursday, he told The Associated Press he had no comment. He has denied wrongdoing in the past. His lawyer couldn't immediately be reached.

Scott Walker's lawyer, Arthur Madden, said he hadn't had a chance to review the indictments and had no comment.