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Former Dept. of Marine Resources Employees Arrested for Embezzlement

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Knox Graham

HARRISON COUNTY, Miss.–Both state and federal indictments were handed down Thursday after an investigation into the Department of Marine Resources that has been ongoing for a year.

The Mississippi State Auditor’s office along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been looking into how resources were spent under former executive director Bill Walker’s watch.

“I appreciate the hard work and cooperation from the local, state, and federal agencies involved,” said state Auditor Stacey Pickering.

Bill Walker, his son Scott Walker, Sheila Tina Shumate, and Joseph C. Zeigler, Jr., have been named in a five-count federal indictment charging conspiracy to commit federal program fraud, federal program fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and mail fraud involving the MDMR and the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation.

Scott Walker is also named in a separate, federal indictment along with Michael Janus of Biloxi charging conspiracy to commit program fraud, program fraud, bribery in connection with a federal program and money laundering.

The indictment says Walker and Janus made a false invoice in the amount of $180,000 to be submitted to the City of D’Iberville for payment of consulting services.

On top of that a Harrison County grand jury returned indictments against Sheila Tina Shumate, Leslie Young Gollott, Susan Perkins, Jere Grant Larsen, Jr. and Kerwin Cuevas for multiple counts of fraud and embezzlement, which it says occurred during the time they worked for the MDMR.

“The indictments and demands announced today are one step toward restoring the trust of taxpayers, but they do not close the investigation,”  Pickering said. “As alleged in the indictments, these men and women abused their positions, stole from the taxpayers of Mississippi, and they will be held accountable for their actions.”

In addition, the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office issued demands against ten people after the investigation totaling $1,022,308.55. The demands are listed below:

William Walker                          $362,689.14

Joseph Ziegler                            $258,268.75

Sheila Shumate                          $127,608.57

Leslie Gollott                             $117,593.10

Susan Perkins                            $  30,959.34

Grant Larson                             $    1,342.08

Kerwin Cuevas                          $108,420.70

Walter Chataginer                     $    1,279.85

Kerry Endris                              $  13,020.66

Samantha Hebert                       $    1,126.36

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