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Ex-official could go back to prison for not repaying money

September 14, 2018

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A former Mississippi state official could be going back to prison for failing to pay restitution.

Bill Walker, who led the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, was called into federal court Thursday in Gulfport. Probation officials filed a summons saying in August that Walker was failing to pay $5,000 a month in restitution. He was released from prison in November and was supposed to begin paying the money 30 days later.

A hearing is set Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett on revoking Walker’s supervised release.

Court papers unsealed Friday show Walker isn’t making the payments toward $573,000 in restitution and a $125,000 fine. The state auditor’s office said Walker paid $2,517 in the year ended June 30.

Senior U.S. Probation Officer Justin Crowe wrote in the Aug. 9 petition that Walker “has failed to cooperate completely” with prosecutors because he hasn’t supplied all requested financial documentation despite several requests.

In February, Starrett refused to reduce payments, finding Walker and his wife had more than $16,000 in monthly income, plus other assets. Walker argued then that he and his wife had monthly expenses of more than $15,000. Starrett, though, said Walker hadn’t shown that he “has made any significant effort to adjust his lifestyle to provide for payment of the court-ordered monetary sanctions.”

Walker pleaded guilty in 2014 to conspiring to defraud the federal government by steering $210,000 in federal money to buy owned by his son, Scott Walker. Bill Walker admitted that he approved the federal money that a nonprofit used to buy land from Scott Walker, even though it was supposed to be used for other purposes. After the purchase, Scott and Bill Walker paid off part of a loan they owed, with Bill Walker taking out a new loan to pay the balance. Scott Walker and others also were convicted.

Bill Walker headed Department of Marine Resources from 2002 until the Commission on Marine Resources fired him in January 2013 after federal and state investigations of agency spending had begun.

Federal Public Defender John Weber was appointed to represent Walker. Weber didn’t immediately respond to an email Friday.

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