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Appeals court rules developer must repay money he diverted

Mississippi’s Court of Appeals says Jackson developer David Watkins must repay $587,000 in bond money he misused, as well as $75,000 in fines.

The court ruled 5-3 Tuesday for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann in the case.

Watkins diverted money that investors loaned to renovate part of Jackson’s Metrocenter Mall for Jackson city offices, buying a Meridian building that Watkins renovated for police headquarters there. Hosemann found Watkins committed securities fraud violations because the $5 million bond issue was meant only for Metrocenter work.

The court says Watkins also broke state law by failing to disclose a $1.1 million fee he took for the Metrocenter work.

Hosemann says he’ll pursue Watkins to repay the $587,000 to current owners of the Metrocenter project, including Jackson businessmen Socrates Garret and LeRoy Walker.

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