How the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources was unraveled
Former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director William “Bill” Walker could be going back to prison because he is not making his monthly payments in court-ordered restitution and fines for embezzling from the state agency.
Federal officials obtained a warrant to arrest Walker in mid-August for violating the condition of his prison release..
According to court paper unsealed this week, Walker is not paying the $5,000 a month he was ordered to pay beginning 30 days after his prison release.
Walker was released from prison in November 2017 to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest at his home in Ocean Springs.
Since then, he has paid $2,517 of the $362,689 he owes, according to the state auditor’s office, something Walker’s son, Scott Walker, disputed Friday.
Officials in the U.S. Attorney’s financial division said they made “several” attempts to obtain Walker’s financial information but Walker was not cooperating, court papers say.
Walker is set for a revocation hearing in U.S. District Court in Gulfport on Wednesday. A federal public defender has been appointed to represent him.
In 2014, a judge sentenced Walker to five years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by using government money to buy a lot that son, Scott Walker, owned.
Scott Walker also pleaded guilty in that case as well as another involving former D’Iberville City Manager Michael Janus. Both Scott Walker and Janus were released from prison in 2017.
On Friday, Scott Walker said he and his father combined have paid a total of $200,000 since the sentencing in their cases.
However, he said, his father, cannot afford to pay the $5,000 a month the court ordered because he is living off his retirement and social security benefits. He said a public defender plans to ask for the monthly payments to be reduced to $2,500 a month.
“What we are trying to do is to get his amount down to an amount he can afford because the $5,000 is undo-able,” Scott Walker said. “I pay $1,500 a month and that is my restitution. He is living off his retirement now.”
Bill Walker asked for a reduction in his monthly payment earlier this year, but U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett denied the request.
In his ruling, the judge noted Bill and Sharon Walker brought in an estimated $15,000 a month in retirement and social security benefits.
In addition, the judge said, the couple had sold a second home since his sentencing, though Bill Walker claimed any proceeds from that sale went to pay for attorney fees.
But Bill Walker, the judge ruled, had not provided the courts with any evidence to suggest he has “made any significant effort to adjust his lifestyle” in order to meet the court’s demands.
Scott Walker said his dad had not provided any financial information to federal authorities until the end of August because of family illness.
“My mother had a heart attack and it took until Aug. 31 to get it all to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Scott Walker said. “She was at Singing River (hospital) for 90 days.”
He said his father stayed by his mother’s side.