GULFPORT -- Five former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources employees, including two who were top managers, were indicted by a grand jury Thursday on charges that they converted state funds to their own use, submitted hundreds of dollars in false travel vouchers or billed personal gas to an agency card.
All five employees arranged to turn themselves in Thursday at the Harrison County jail.
Tina Shumate, former DMR coastal management and planning director, faces the most charges. Shumate, a close associate of former DMR executive director Bill Walker, faces five embezzlement charges and one count of tampering with a witness.
Shumate's attorney, Tim Holleman, said, "Tina hasn't embezzled one nickel."
A fifth former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources employee, public relations specialist Susan Perkins, has been charged with two counts of embezzlement.
Kerwin Cuevas, who headed the DMR's artificial reef program, has been charged with three counts of embezzlement.
Leslie Gollott, a former projects officer at the DMR, also faces two counts of embezzlement.
Former DMR employee Jere Grant Larsen is charged with one count of embezzlement.
All five employees turned themselves in. Shumate, Cuevas and Gollott were released on bonds of $5,000 for each charge. Bond for Perkins and Larsen was $2,500 on each charge.
The State Auditor's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been investigating operations at the DMR under former Executive Director Bill Walker for more than a year. So far, charges in the case have been brought by the State Auditor's Office.
Sun Herald staffers Paul Hampton, John Fitzhugh and Patrick Ochs contributed to this report.