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Ziegler's sentencing ends DMR embezzlement case

mdmrBILOXI — Former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Chief of Staff Joseph Ziegler has been sentenced to three years’ probation.

Ziegler was the last of 10 individuals to be sentenced as part of the state and federal investigation into DMR.

He was also ordered to pay $184,487.28 in restitution and a $5,000 fine. He will begin making payments of $1,000 a month in 30 days.

Last year, the Office of the State Auditor issued a demand in the amount of $258,268.75 to Zeigler and has begun the process of recovery for that money.

“Mr. Ziegler is being held accountable for his actions as we close this dark chapter in DMR’s history,” State Auditor Stacey Pickering said. “As a result of the investigation, those involved have been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison, nearly 25 years of probation, and more than $1 million in demands have been issued by my Office. Now that the sentencing phase of this investigation is complete, we can begin the process of collecting on the civil demands.”

Previous civil and criminal actions against individuals as part of the DMR investigation:

  • Former Executive Director, William W. Walker. A written formal demand in the amount of $362,689.14 was issued on November 7, 2013. On March 10, 2014, Walker pled guilty to Embezzlement. On June 16, 2014, Walker was sentenced to five years in prison, three years supervised release, a fine of $125, 000.00 and $572,689.00 restitution. Walker is currently in federal custody with a release date of November 26, 2018.
  • Former City of D’Iberville Manager, Michael Janus. On February 10, 2014, Janus pled guilty to one count of Fraud. On June 16, 2014, Janus was sentenced to twenty-one months in prison and ordered to pay $180,000.00 in restitution joint and severally with Scott Walker. Janus is in federal custody with a release date on January 22, 2016.
  • Former Consultant, Scott Walker. On February 20, 2014, Walker pled guilty to Fraud and Conspiracy and was ordered to pay $180,000.00 in restitution joint and severally with Michael Janus. On July 23, 2014, Walker was sentenced to eighteen months in prison, three years post- release supervision, and restitution in the amount of $390,000.00. Walker is not yet in Federal Office of Prisons.
  • Former Director of Coastal Management Programs, Sheila Shumate. On August 15, 2014, Shumate pled guilty to Embezzlement and Fraud, and was sentenced to serve two years in prison, and four years of probation. Shumate was also ordered to pay $14,091.11 in restitution, which she paid in full. A written formal demand in the amount of $127,608.57 was issued on November 7, 2013. To date, Shumate has paid restitution in full and owes $113,517.46 in civil demands.
  • Former Program Manager, Leslie Young Gollott. A written formal demand in the amount of $117,593.10 was issued on November 7, 2013. On May 28, 2014, Gollot pled guilty to Embezzlement and was sentenced to two years under house arrest, followed by five years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $30,305.22. Payment for restitution has been paid in full, and she owes $87,287.88 in civil demands.
  • Former Director of Artificial Reef Program, Kerwin Cuevas. On November 7, 2013, Cuevas was indicted by the grand jury on two counts of Embezzlement. A written formal demand in the amount of $108,420.70 was issued on November 7, 2013. On October 30, 2014, Cuevas pled guilty to Embezzlement and was sentenced to three years of probation and fined $2,000 and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,367.75. Cuevas has paid $3112.75, of which $406.41 has been applied to restitution. To date, he owes $108,014.29.
  • Former Marine Technician, Jere Grant Larsen, Jr. On May 28, 2014, Larsen pled guilty to Embezzlement and was sentenced to two years of probation. A written formal demand in the amount of $1,342.08 was issued on November 7, 2013. Payment in the amount of $1,342.08 has been received and balance paid in full.
  • Former Public Relations Officer, Susan Perkins. On May 28, 2014, Perkins pled guilty to Embezzlement and was sentenced to two years of probation. A written formal demand in the amount of $30,959.34 was issued on November 7, 2013. To date, Perkins owes $30,279.95.
  • Marine Technician, Kerry Endris. A written formal demand in the amount of $13,020.66 was issued on November 7, 2013.
  • Former Videographer, Samantha Hebert. A written formal demand in the amount of $1,126.36 was issued on November 7, 2013.
  • Former Chief of Marine Patrol, Walter Chataginer. A written formal demand in the amount of $1,279.85 was issued on November 7, 2013. Payment in the amount of $1,279.85 has been received and balance paid in full.

“This investigation was a prime example of multiple agencies, including our Investigators, the District Attorney, the U.S. Attorney, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, working together to protect the taxpayers of Mississippi, and I thank all those involved for their hard work,” Pickering added.

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