Joe Ziegler, Tina Shumate ask for separate trials in DMR case

ASSOCIATED PRESSDecember 5, 2013 

GULFPORT -- The former chief of staff at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources wants to be tried separately from other defendants in a federal corruption case related to the use of public money.

Joseph Ziegler Jr. made the request in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Gulfport. Another former DMR employee, Sheila "Tina" Shumate, had already made a similar request.

Former DMR director Bill Walker and his son Scott Walker, also face charges in the case.

The charges are part of a lengthy investigation that had already resulted in a shake-up in the leadership of the agency. The indictment says the Walkers and Shumate conspired to use DMR money to buy land in which the Walkers had a financial interest and also embezzled $210,000.

The Walkers and Ziegler are charged with diverting DMR money into the private bank account of the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation, a private foundation created by Bill Walker.

Scott Walker and Michael Janus, the former city manager for D'Iberville, are charged in a separate case with fraudulently using $180,000 in that city's money.

They all have pleaded not guilty.

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