Walkers, Janus, former DMR employees given later trial dates

calee@sunherald.comNovember 26, 2013 

GULFPORT -- New trial dates have been set in public-corruption cases against former state Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Bill Walker, his son Scott Walker, former D'Iberville City Manager Michael Janus and two former DMR employees.

U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett has set a June 2 trial date for the Walkers, former DMR chief of staff Joe Ziegler and former DMR coastal resource management and planning director Tina Shumate.

Scott Walker and Janus will be tried March 10 in a separate case, Starrett has ordered.

Trials for the five had been tentatively scheduled for the court term that begins Dec. 16, but defense attorneys asked for more time.

Starrett said in his orders, entered Tuesday, the defendants need "reasonable time" to prepare their cases and the U.S. Attorney's Office has agreed to the continuances.

Bill Walker and Scott Walker are charged with five crimes: one count each of conspiracy to defraud the federal government, fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and two counts each of mail fraud. Ziegler faces one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud. Shumate is charged with one count each of conspiracy to defraud the federal government and fraud.

The charges against the Walkers and Shumate stem from a land transaction involving property the father and son had an interest in. Shumate persuaded a nonprofit to buy the land with money supplied by the DMR, the indictment says.

The charges against the Walkers and Ziegler involve a private foundation Bill Walker founded in 2004, about two years after he became DMR director. The indictment alleges the three funneled money intended for the state to Bill Walker's foundation, then used the money to enrich themselves or others.

In a second case, Scott Walker and Janus each face five charges: conspiracy to defraud the federal government, fraud, bribery and two counts of money laundering.

The charges involve a $180,000 consulting fee Janus, as D'Iberville's city manager, allegedly arranged for Scott Walker.

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