Posts Tagged ‘Department of Marine Resource’

Shumate Pleads Guilty As DMR Investigation Nears Conclusion

Posted on: August 18th, 2014 by Lisa

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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Federal and State Charges Filed In Joint Investigation Involving Mississippi Department of Marine Resources

Posted on: November 8th, 2013 by Lisa

GULFPORT, Miss.- Federal and state grand juries returned indictments this week following a joint investigation into the activities of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (“DMR”) and a $3 million grant issued to the City of D’Iberville, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis, FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen, Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Second Circuit District Attorney Joel Smith and Nineteenth Circuit District Attorney Tony Lawrence.

The State Auditor’s Office also issued civil demands totaling more than $1 million.

William W. Walker, 68, of Ocean Springs, Scott J. Walker, 34, of Ocean Springs, Sheila Tina Shumate, 52, of Saucier, and Joseph C. Zeigler, Jr., 66, of Gulfport, have been named in a five-count federal indictment, returned on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, charging conspiracy to commit federal program fraud, federal program fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud involving DMR and the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation.

Scott J. Walker is also named in a separate federal indictment along with Michael Janus, age 47, of Biloxi, charging conspiracy to commit program fraud, program fraud, bribery in connection with a federal program and money laundering.  The indictment alleges that Walker and Janus caused a false invoice in the amount of $180,000 to be submitted to the City of D’Iberville for payment of consulting services.

A Harrison County grand jury returned  indictments this week against Sheila Tina Shumate, Leslie Young Gollott, Susan Perkins, Jere Grant Larsen, Jr. and Kerwin Cuevas for multiple counts of fraud and embezzlement which allegedly occurred during their employment with the Department of Marine Resources.

In addition, the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office issued demands against ten individuals as part of this investigation totaling $1,022,308.55. The individual demands are listed below:

  • William Walker- $362,689.14
  • Joseph Ziegler- $258,268.75
  • Sheila Shumate- $127,608.57
  • Leslie Gollott- $117,593.10
  • Susan Perkins- $ 30,959.34
  • Grant Larsen- $1,342.08
  • Kerwin Cuevas- $108,420.70
  • Walter Chataginer- $1,279.85
  • Kerry Endris- $13,020.66
  • Samantha Hebert- $1,126.36

“The indictments and demands announced today are one step toward restoring the trust of taxpayers, but they do not close the investigation,” State Auditor Stacey Pickering said. “As alleged in the indictments, these men and women abused their positions, stole from the taxpayers of Mississippi, and they will be held accountable for their actions. I appreciate the hard work and cooperation from the local, state and federal agencies involved including our Special Agents, District Attorneys Joel Smith and Tony Lawrence, Gregory Davis,  U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, and Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The public is reminded that an indictment is an allegation that a defendant has committed a crime.  All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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State Auditor Announces DMR Foundation Considers Decision to Transfer Boats to Mississippi Taxpayers

Posted on: April 17th, 2013 by Lisa

BILOXI, Miss.- Today, State Auditor Stacey Pickering met with Mississippi Department of Marine Resource Foundation board members at the Bolton State Office Building in Biloxi, Miss.

The board agreed to meet within the next 7 to 10 days to discuss transferring ownership of two boats that were being leased from the DMR Foundation by DMR. Total taxpayers assets in these two boats, including upgrades, equaled $1,074,517.97 identified to date.

“I appreciate the DMR Foundation board members being cooperative and working towards a process to turn the boats over to DMR,” said Auditor Pickering. “It is our office’s responsibility to protect the taxpayers’ assets in these boats and to continue to hold those accountable who misuse taxpayer money.”

This is the initial action of the civil portion of this ongoing investigation into misuse of taxpayer funds within DMR and has no relation to the potential criminal aspects of this case.

Details on the boats:

1990 Californian (Left)
Length: 42 foot
Breadth: 18 foot

1984 Topaz (Right)
Length: 36 foot
Breadth: 13 foot

Media Coverage: