HATTIESBURG — Ocean Springs businessman Scott Walker was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in federal prison for his role in defrauding the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and the city of D’Iberville.
U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett also ordered Walker to pay $390,000 in restitution, the amount he admitted netting through the two schemes, and serve three years of supervised release.
In the Marine Resources case, Walker pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy that led to him getting $210,000 in federal money for property he owned in the Gulf Hills subdivision of Jackson County. Marine Resources Executive Director William Walker, Scott Walker’s father, and former DMR manager Tina Shumate were accused as co-conspirators in directing federal money to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, which bought the land from Scott Walker.
Shumate maintains her innocence and is scheduled for trial Sept. 22. Another former DMR manager, Joseph Ziegler, filed papers yesterday saying he would plead guilty on related charges.
William Walker was sentenced to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $125,000 fine and $572,689 in restitution. He’s currently being held at the federal detention center in Oakdale, Louisiana, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records.
In the D’Iberville case, Scott Walker pleaded guilty to one count of federal program fraud for faking documents to legitimize the $180,000 finders’ fee that he and former City Manager Michael Janus collected for a $3 million Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality grant. The grant was to help build the planned Ocean Expo.
Janus was sentenced to 21 months in prison, $180,000 in restitution and three years of supervised release. He’s currently imprisoned at the Montgomery Federal Prison Camp in Alabama, records show, and is scheduled for release in January 2016.
During testimony Wednesday, Walker told Starrett he still wears leg braces and undergoes routine physical therapy from a plane crash in May 2011.
“I’m not the man I was in 2011,” the Sun Herald quoted him as saying.
Chris Lott, a special agent for the state auditor’s office, testified that $12,683 from the Department of Marine Resources foundation account was used for Scott Walker’s benefit, including $6,000 in furniture for his guest house.
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