Shumate Pleads Guilty As DMR Investigation Nears Conclusion

JACKSON- This past Friday, former Department of Marine Resources Director of Coastal Management Programs Sheila Shumate pled guilty to one count of Embezzlement and one count of Fraud by a Public Official.

She was sentenced to 12 years in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with 10 years suspended and two to serve. She was also sentenced to four years of probation.

Shumate has been ordered to pay $14,091.11 in restitution, which must be paid by Friday. Last year, the Office of the State Auditor issued a demand for $127,608.57 against Shumate and has begun the process of recovery for that money.

“I am pleased with the sentencing of Ms. Shumate and am glad that the investigation and this chapter into the Department of Marine Resources in nearing conclusion,” State Auditor Stacey Pickering said. “This has been a long process, but our Investigators have worked tirelessly and have been persistent in helping to bring justice for the taxpayers of the Gulf Coast, and of Mississippi. Because of our investigation, numerous individuals will serve jail time for embezzlement or fraud, and the money they stole will be returned to the taxpayers.

“I thank District Attorney Joel Smith and his Office for their hard work in prosecuting these cases.”

To date, Kerwin Cuevas, former Director of the Artificial Reef Program, is the only individual charged criminally whose charges have not yet been adjudicated.

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 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.

Former Marine Technician, Jere Grant Larsen, Jr. 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. On May 28, 2014, Larsen pled guilty to Embezzlement and was sentenced to two years of probation.

Former Public Relations Officer, Susan Perkins. A written formal demand in the amount of $30,959.34 was issued on November 7, 2013. On May 28, 2014, Perkins pled guilty to Embezzlement and was sentenced to two years of probation.

Former Chief of Staff, Joseph Ziegler, Jr. A written formal demand in the amount of $258,268.75 was issued on November 7, 2013. On August 7, 2014, Ziegler pled guilty and will be sentenced on November 10, 2014.

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.

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 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. Cuevas is scheduled for trial at a later date. Cuevas is the last individual to go trial

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