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Former Jackson developer arrested for embezzlement

Former developer David Watkins, 68, turned himself in to authorities Wednesday night after being indicted on two counts ofembezzling bond money intended for a development project he managed, Attorney General Jim Hood said.

Watkins turned himself in to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department on one count of wire fraud and one count of embezzlement, Hood said.

The indictment, which was handed down in October by a Madison County grand jury, accuses Watkins of taking $587,084.34 in bond proceeds from the Mississippi Business Finance Corporation while employed as the managing member of the development company Retro Metro LLC in June 2011.

State officials said the money was supposed to be used to renovate the former Belk site at Metro Center in Jackson, which now houses city offices.

According to the indictment, the bonds were intended for construction costs for a project financed through taxable revenue bonds for which BankPlus in Ridgeland served as trustee. The bond money was ultimately put toward Watkins’ own use, Hood said in a news release. The wire fraud charge stems from the scheme being transmitted by telephone, wire or other communication across county lines, Hood said.

If convicted on all counts, Watkins faces up to 25 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.

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