Monday, August 18, 2014

State Auditor: DMR investigation nears conclusion

State Auditor Stacey Pickering issued the following press release:


Shumate Pleads Guilty As DMR Investigation Nears Conclusion

JACKSON- This past Friday, former Department of Marine Resources Director of Coastal Management Programs Sheila Shumate pled guilty to one count of Embezzlement and one count of Fraud by a Public Official. She was sentenced to 12 years in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with 10 years suspended and two to serve. She was also sentenced to four years of probation. 

Shumate has been ordered to pay $14,091.11 in restitution, which must be paid by Friday. Last year, the Office of the State Auditor issued a demand for $127,608.57 against Shumate and has begun the process of recovery for that money.

“I am pleased with the sentencing of Ms. Shumate and am glad that the investigation and this chapter into the Department of Marine Resources in nearing conclusion,” State Auditor Stacey Pickering said. “This has been a long process, but our Investigators have worked tirelessly and have been persistent in helping to bring justice for the taxpayers of the Gulf Coast, and of Mississippi. Because of our investigation, numerous individuals will serve jail time for embezzlement or fraud, and the money they stole will be returned to the taxpayers.

“I thank District Attorney Joel Smith and his Office for their hard work in prosecuting these cases.”

To date, Kerwin Cuevas, former Director of the Artificial Reef Program, is the only individual charged criminally whose charges have not yet been adjudicated. 

Previous civil and criminal actions against individuals as part of the DMR investigation:

·         Former Executive Director, William W. Walker. A written formal demand in the amount of $362,689.14 was issued on November 7, 2013. On March 10, 2014, Walker pled guilty to Embezzlement. On June 16, 2014, Walker was sentenced to five years in prison, three years supervised release, a fine of $125, 000.00 and $572,689.00 restitution. Walker is currently in federal custody with a release date of November 26, 2018.
·         Former City of D’Iberville Manager, Michael Janus. On February 10, 2014, Janus pled guilty to one count of Fraud. On June 16, 2014, Janus was sentenced to twenty-one months in prison and ordered to pay $180,000.00 in restitution joint and severally with Scott Walker. Janus is in federal custody with a release date on January 22, 2016.
·         Former Consultant, Scott Walker. On February 20, 2014, Walker pled guilty to Fraud and Conspiracy and was ordered to pay $180,000.00 in restitution joint and severally with Michael Janus. On July 23, 2014, Walker was sentenced to eighteen months in prison, three years post- release supervision, and restitution in the amount of $390,000.00. Walker is not yet in Federal Office of Prisons.
·         Former Program Manager, Leslie Young Gollott. A written formal demand in the amount of $117,593.10 was issued on November 7, 2013. On May 28, 2014, Gollot pled guilty to Embezzlement and was sentenced to two years under house arrest, followed by five years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $30,305.22. Payment for restitution has been paid in full.
·         Former Marine Technician, Jere Grant Larsen, Jr. A written formal demand in the amount of $1,342.08 was issued on November 7, 2013. Payment in the amount of $1,342.08 has been received and balance paid in full. On May 28, 2014, Larsen pled guilty to Embezzlement and was sentenced to two years of probation.
·         Former Public Relations Officer, Susan Perkins. A written formal demand in the amount of $30,959.34 was issued on November 7, 2013. On May 28, 2014, Perkins pled guilty to Embezzlement and was sentenced to two years of probation.
·         Former Chief of Staff, Joseph Ziegler, Jr. A written formal demand in the amount of $258,268.75 was issued on November 7, 2013. On August 7, 2014, Ziegler pled guilty and will be sentenced on November 10, 2014.
·         Former Chief of Marine Patrol, Walter Chataginer. A written formal demand in the amount of $1,279.85 was issued on November 7, 2013. Payment in the amount of $1,279.85 has been received and balance paid in full.
·         Marine Technician, Kerry Endris. A written formal demand in the amount of $13,020.66 was issued on November 7, 2013.
·         Former Videographer, Samantha Hebert. A written formal demand in the amount of $1,126.36 was issued on November 7, 2013.
·         Former Director of Artificial Reef Program, Kerwin Cuevas. On November 7, 2013, Cuevas was indicted by the grand jury on two counts of Embezzlement. A written formal demand in the amount of $108,420.70 was issued on November 7, 2013. Cuevas is scheduled for trial at a later date. Cuevas is the last individual to go to trial. 

###
Elected as Mississippi’s 41st State Auditor in 2007, Stacey Pickering was re-elected as State Auditor in 2011 receiving over 75 percent of the vote in the November General Election. Since 2008, Pickering has recovered more than $20  million in embezzled, misspent or misappropriated funds. He is a seventh generation Mississippian from Jones County.  Auditor Pickering currently serves on the Domestic Working Group for the Office of the Comptroller General of the United States. He also serves on the Financial Management and Intergovernmental Affairs and Performance Audit Committees for the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers and is a member of the National State Auditors Association. Throughout his political career, Pickering has made tremendous strides in creating more accountability and transparency in government and continues to promote fiscal responsibility and the need for more efficiency and productivity in government. For more information on Stacey Pickering, visit www.osa.state.ms.us/auditors-bio.htm.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

He has left a whole lot more money on the table. He did not even attempt to pick the CIAP low hanging fruit.$7-8 million passed out to friends and associates based on inflated appraisals all which should have been reviewed by a Barbour and wifey in Madison County but were not. Why was none of this money recovered? Also forgave a million dollars in money misused by the Marine Resource Foundation which had multiple directors to collect from. He never pursued the big fish but claims he caught his limit.

Anonymous said...

I believe in Madison County you mean "a Barber" not "a Barbour" and I don't mean cutting hair.

Remember His Name said...

He picked up the ripe fruit that had fallen to the ground. What's the big deal about those left hangin' low?

Anonymous said...

Need to correct your 'implied accusation'. They were not reviewed by a "Barbour" and wifey in Madison County.

1) it is not "Barbour" but "Barber" that you are trying to refer
2) they were not "reviewed" for appraisal purposes, but 'wifey' did have a contract to consolidate appraisals - among other things - for CIAP.

Don't know that you are caught up in the TeaParty crap of everything in the state being controlled by "Barbour" or if they have been so spewing of their hatred that it has become contagious. But in this case even though the names are close, you don't get a cigar for trying to blame Haley for this. Thanks for trying, though.

Anonymous said...

An honest error on the spelling of Barber/Barbour. No tea being served here. I do think Haley Barbour was one of the big fish not pursued by Pickering.

Anonymous said...

Honest mistake accepted.

But what in the world do you think Haley Barbour had do to with the DMR mess? How was he a 'big fish' ignored in this deal? Or is it that there was money in MS so therefore Haley had to be somewhere around?

Anonymous said...

You don't have to be Tea Party to know when the Boss Hoggs of Mississippi and Washington are entirely too well fed and fat on the taxpayer. KIOR, Spill money, well you know what I mean!

Anonymous said...

He also left out the part where he and Hood were held in contempt of court for hiding the DMR records from the Sun Herald.

Anonymous said...

Barbour,in my opinion along with other politicians were involved in the DMR in many ways. Money was sent from the MsDEQ to Bill Walker's Marine Resource Foundation and then sent back out as campaign contributions as directed by Jackson. Most who participated in the oil spill cleanup,which was basically run from the DMR offices in Biloxi at Barbour's direction, were his financial supporters. George Malvaney is a good example but only one of many.

Anonymous said...

Pro Tip: Pay attention. Here's a link to convicted felon, Scott Walker's recent endorsement/letter to the editor for thad. Follow the money... Bonus Pro Tip: Frontier boys/DMR. Cheers, Haley. Well stated, 8:13

http://slabbed.org/2014/06/21/mississippis-newest-felon-says-to-vote-for-thad/

Anonymous said...

Thanks, 8:13. Haley Barbour relative defrauded FEMA after Katrina, judge rules:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/08/31/122778/haley-barbour-relative-defrauded.html

Haley, Henry and Austin mentioned

http://www.southernstudies.org/2011/09/mississippi-gov-barbours-relative-committed-katrina-fraud-court-rules.html

Anonymous said...

Haley, Henry and Austin "mentioned". Big deal. They were not included. Maybe you want to be held accountable and responsible for all of your relatives, but I for damn sure don't with my kinfolks. And I'm sure they don't want to be held responsible for mine!

Anonymous said...

*;13 - In your opinion is a long way from known facts - which is what I suppose the State Auditor has to work with. Maybe you should run for auditor and then you could go about indicting folks based on "your opinion".

MDEQ did direct - in accordance with state and federal laws - that some fines for environmental violation be paid into the DMR Foundation. At that time, the foundation was an eligible recipient for such fines, and no one knew of any problems with the foundation. However, I have not been able to find where any of those monies were returned as campaign contributions. Could you please send me the place on the campaign finance reports where you find that those monies were 'returned' as contributions - I should would be interested in seeing those documents. And I'm sure several different enforcement agencies would also like to know of them. Unless, of course, this is only "in your opinion".

As to Malvaney, the company he worked for did get the contract to manage the oil spill cleanup. Did you have another company that was qualified and ready to jump in and handle this work? Or, in your opinion, do you think the state didn't need to have an experienced environmental company handle this work - maybe it should have been done by the local board of supervisors?

Overall, nice allegations. Too bad that they are all based on "your opinion" and not based on any facts.

Opinionitus said...

Methinks 10:01 is chapped that 8:13 nails it. But, hell, this is just my opinion.

In other words, I 'think' it, I don't 'know' it, therefore, it's my 'opinion', which oughta matter in this discussion.

Anonymous said...

10:01 The fact that the directors of the MsDEQ and the MsDMR agreed in private to transfer funds from the MsDEQ to the Marine Resource Foundation.These funds belonged to the taxpayers of Ms. but were allowed to be given to this nonprofit under the control of Bill Walker. This same foundation passed out money to politicians all over the state,which was illegal to do because of the status of the MRF. Some returned the money some did not.This is not my opinion but facts that have been published in the newspapers. This is one reason a full accounting of the MRF has been sealed by the courts at Pickering's request and that is my opinion.

Anonymous said...



However, I have not been able to find where any of those monies were returned as campaign contributions. Could you please send me the place on the campaign finance reports where you find that those monies were 'returned' as contributions - I should would be interested in seeing thosedocuments. And I'm sure several different enforcement agencies would also like to know of them. Unless, of course, this is only "in your opinion".

Anon 10:01 here is how it's done.
Google(or bing or whatever) the following: "Marine Resource Foundation donations". Or maybe try "Marine Resource Foundation political donations" or many other possibilities.

Doing so ("Marine Resource Foundation donations", but maybe if you try the others you will find some more of what you claim to be looking for) one can find the following Sun Herald story.

Politicians giving marine resources foundation money back By MICHAEL NEWSOM January 23, 2013

Reading that story you will find politicians from Phil Bryant on down listed either as the recipients (took the Walker bait) or the intended recipients (smart enough not to take the Walker bait) of campaign contributions from the scam foundation.

The Sun Herald made a public records request to the DMR this week to get details of political contributions the foundation made, but the agency hasn't yet responded. Under state law, the agency has up to seven working days to comply with most requests and up to 14 days in some cases involving more-complicated requests.

Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources Chairman Vernon Asper, said the commission, which oversees the DMR, was unaware of the donations.

"As you know, none of the commissioners were involved in any of the foundation activities, so I'm confident that none of us knew anything about these donations," Asper said.


Seems like I remember something about a contempt case involving some supposedly public records, what could there be to hide?

In summary, it took about as much time to find what anon 10:01pm doubts exists as it did to read the 10:01pm comment. I'm wondering if 10:01pm is ill informed (just like the campaigns which accepted donations from a foundation), or maybe there is a different explanation for that carefully crafted comment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 12:35 for the info on how Bill Walker and his political friends abused the DMR and taxpayers by allowing money to be placed in a nonprofit knowing these funds would be routed to certain people. This is only part of the story. Walker maintained a fleet of personal pleasure boats that hetotally retrofitted with taxpayers money, was being paid lease money from the DMR and allowed or put together all kinds of parties, political fundraisers and fishing trips for local, state and federal politicians along with their staff people or other invited guests. This includes US Senator Thad Cochran. Why has the list of people, trips and expenses been sealed at the request of Stacey Pickering? Surely if Pickering can pursue DMR employees all of the way to indictment for a few hundred dollars he could try to recover all of the money spent illegally for/on the politicians. We know why.

Anonymous said...

Very easy to see how we were designated the most corrupt state in America a couple of weeks ago. Every time I see the "Welcome to Mississippi" that is erected on our state lines I think of the article and the Fortune Magazine website that shows a picture of this sign as a lead in to the article, Mississippi-America's most corrupt state. They should give some kind of trophy at the next annual gathering of the Ms. Municipal League. Maybe Stacy Pickering could be the person to accept this on behalf of the state. After all his office's lack of auditing is one of the main reasons we have so many crooks as politicians, because they can. I did see today that a dollar can buy you more in our state than any other. I wonder if they meant political influence? Sure seems that way.

Pappy Odaniek said...

The bottom line on this thing is that too much dirty laundry was hung out on DMR and something had to be done...notice that everyone within DMR was crucified but all of these little paths leading to other politicians and agencies were not pursued...The bottomline is the same thing is taking place within all of the foundations and they need to be done away with, but they won't be because these politicians love these little black holes

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