Bill Walker's attorney asks for leniency in Monday's sentencing

meperez@sunherald.comJune 13, 2014 

An attorney for William Walker, the former director of the state Department of Marine Resources, filed a motion Friday asking the judge not to follow the sentencing guidelines and impose a lighter sentence when Walker appears in federal court Monday in Hattiesburg.

His sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday before U.S. Southern District Judge Keith Starrett.

Walker's attorney, William Kirksey, said in the motion that Walker doesn't have any prior record and the crime he pleaded guilty to was non-violent. He said the facts support "a sentence without unnecessary imprisonment."

Walker and his son, Scott Walker, both pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the government while Bill Walker was DMR director.

"As the man he is, he stepped up, accepted responsibility for his acts and entered a plea before this court and now is ready for an appropriate sentence," the motion said.

Walker has no prior record and is unlikely to commit another crime, the attorney said. "Nothing would be advanced or gained by placing a 69 year old in prison."

Bill Walker admitted that he took $210,000 from DMR so a non profit could buy land his son owned.

"The money used by way of grants to get the property into the hands of the group on the coast to have protected areas for wildlife was accomplished in an illegal means, but did in fact accomplish the intended purpose," the motion says.

He has agreed to pay $572,689.14 in restitution, the motion says. That includes the amount DMR spent on the Bay Sweep property, plus $362,689.14 he funneled from DMR to a private foundation he controlled, court papers say.

"This is an obligation that will follow him for many years and one that he will bear," the document says.

The Sun Herald reported for months about the operation of the DMR under Walker.

"There has been no outpouring of outrage, with the exception of the press on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," the motion said. "People that have known Walker have sent letters of support that have been forwarded to the court for consideration."

The maximum sentencing is 60 months, according to the motion.

His attorney said Walker doesn't need rehabilitation in prison, and he could be "a positive force for good in his community."

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