DMR employee's South Mississippi home searched

calee@sunherald.comJanuary 24, 2013 

Shumate

JOHN FITZHUGH — SUN HERALD Buy Photo

BILOXI -- Investigators have searched the home of Tina Shumate, coastal management and planning director at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

David Huggins, who heads the Investigative Audit Division of the State Auditor's Office, confirmed a search warrant was served at Shumate's home Tuesday.

Huggins would not release any details about the search, part of an ongoing investigation into spending at the DMR under former Director Bill Walker.

Shumate's attorney, Tim Holleman, said investigators took routine financial records and other

documents from Shumate's home. He did not want to detail the records confiscated, but in looking at the list, said, "I didn't see anything of any significance, let's put it that way."

Holleman said he believes the investigation will clear his client of any wrongdoing.

In November, a federal audit questioned the DMR's purchase of property owned by Shumate's parents.

The DMR used Coastal Impact Assistance Program money, which the federal government collects from oil companies for offshore drilling, to buy property her parents owned.

The audit said the purchase was a potential conflict of interest because Shumate heads CIAP for the agency. It also said the transaction was based on an appraisal unsupported by verifiable data and thorough research.

The DMR paid $245,000 for the lot on a bayou near the Pascagoula River.

Holleman said Shumate removed herself completely from the land transaction. He said her parents, Curt and Ann Hebert, saw the program advertised and approached the DMR about buying the property.

"When her parents got involved, she had nothing to do with it," Holleman said. "There will be documents that support that."

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