GULFPORT -- Ocean Springs businessman and former mayoral candidate Scott Walker plans to plead guilty to one count of fraud and one count of conspiracy in two federal corruption cases filed against him and others.
Walker filed a notice Tuesday evening of his intent to plead guilty in U.S. District Court under a plea agreement covering both cases.
In one case, Walker plans to plead guilty to conspiracy. He faces the charge along with his father, former state Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Bill Walker, and Tina Shumate, former DMR coastal resource management and planning director.
The three are accused of conspiring in 2011 to transfer money from DMR accounts to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plains to buy property in which the Walkers had a financial interest.
Bill Walker and Shumate have both pleaded not guilty in that case, scheduled for trial June 2.
In the second case, Scott Walker said he is willing to admit he defrauded the government of $180,000. His co-defendant, former D'Iberville City Manager Michael Janus, pleaded guilty to the same charge Feb. 10, admitting Walker did not earn the "finder's fee."
As city manager, Janus arranged the payment in December 2011 to Maxwell & Walker Consulting Group for a $3 million grant Walker purportedly landed for the city to support the proposed Ocean Expo aquarium.
Janus was prepared to testify against Walker at a trial scheduled to begin March 10.
During the Janus plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Rushing said the federal government could have proven at trial that Walker deposited $90,000 of the fee into an account held by JaWa Investments. Walker and Janus, who owned the company, used $40,000 to pay off a loan for an interest in The Columns bar in downtown Biloxi, Rushing said.
Janus is scheduled to be sentenced May 6. The fraud charge carries a maximum 10 years in prison, but the U.S. Attorney's Office is recommending an undisclosed sentence as part of the plea agreement.
In exchange for Janus' plea, the government dropped four other charges against him: conspiracy, bribery and two counts of money laundering.
Walker was charged with the same crimes. His plea hearing has not been set.
In the case involving Scott and Bill Walker, both men and Shumate also are charged with defrauding the federal government of $210,000, the amount the Land Trust
paid for the Walker property in Gulf Hills.
Former DMR Chief of Staff Joe Ziegler also is a defendant in the same case. Ziegler and the Walkers have each pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud.
The indictment says the Walkers and Ziegler conspired to commit mail fraud and stole money intended for the state by diverting it to Bill Walker's private organization, the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation.