The former director of the MS Department of Marine Resources was indicted last week on federal corruption charges, allegedly involving the misappropriation of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. The former director’s son and two other people also were indicted.
This indictment, and another that involved a fired city manager in south Mississippi, were unsealed Nov. 7, just a few days after five ex MDMR employees also were indicted on state charges.
One of the federal indictments charges the agency’s old director, Bill Walker, and his son Scott Walker, both who live in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Among the many allegations of wrongdoing, the indictment noted that the Walkers were part of a conspiracy to use MDMR money to buy land in which the Walkers had a monetary interest. They also allegedly embezzled over $200,000.
Another indictment that was unsealed last week charged that Scott Walker and another former city manager for the town of D’Iberville were involved in the corrupt use of $180,000 in public funds.
The MDMR was first started in 1994 to oversee many programs that are related to the interests of Mississippi along the Gulf, including safety of seafood, boating, coastal wetlands and protection of tideland area. With 145 employees, it is a smaller Mississippi agency and has a budget of $11 million.
The indictments came after a long federal investigation into corruption that had already caused a major leadership shakeup in the agency.
Bill Walker was relieved of his duties at MDMR last January, after he had led the agency for 11 years.
About Federal Corruption Charges
One of the FBI’s top crime fighting priorities is public corruption. It is viewed very seriously by federal authorities because it is a serious breach of trust by government officials, and often involves the assistance of private sector people too.
The FBI works very hard to fight public corruption because it has a major impact on the country in a negative way. Corrupt public officials undermine the security of the country, our safety, the public trust and people’s confidence in government. Also, billions of dollars are wasted and stolen each year.
The FBI investigates not just corruption of the sort mentioned in the story above, but also bribery, extortion, embezzlement, racketeering, kickbacks and money laundering. At this time, the FBI is focusing largely on corruption on the Mexican border, corrupt officials who are working in state agencies, such as the above story in Mississippi, and officials who take advantage of economic crises or natural disasters to steal government money.
The FBI notes that most public officials at the local, state and federal levels are honest, but a few do make the wrong decisions to line their own pockets.
The FBI spends a great deal of resources to fight public corruption. It uses undercover agents, electronic surveillance and informants in ways that often give the Bureau a front row seat to see exchanges of bribe cash or a handshake that seals an illegal deal. The FBI also works closely with state and local governments to fight all types of public corruption.