Yesterday Karen Nelson added some color to the unfolding federal investigation into the DMR friends and family program disclosing a few things, one of which we knew in a general sense and one that we did not know. First off is the factoid we did not know:
The Director of the Land Trust for the Coastal Plain, Judy Steckler, appears to have a problem telling the truth about the Land Trust’s involvement as a financial intermediary in the DMR purchase of Former DMR Executive Director Bill Walker’s son Scott’s piece of land on Bayou Porteaux. Once known as a nonprofit with a sterling reputation the Land Trust has taking a major and well deserved beating for their role in what strongly appears to be a sophisticated, criminal enterprise. After yesterday’s story I do not see how the Land Trust can keep Ms. Steckler as its executive director but as we saw with the CMR it is possible the Board of Trustees of the Land Trust remains firmly in denial, in the process breaching their fiduciary duty to the organization.
Finally Nelson tells us in detail the FBI’s role in the investigation and one of the leads they are chasing using the same investigative technique the FBI used in the neighborhood canvas. It appears Bill Walker’s son Scott may need fabled beltway criminal defense attorney Bernie Grimm’s services again as the FBI has taken an interest in the DMR’s purchase of Walker’s lot. It is not much of a stretch to extrapolate that CIAP director Tina Shumate and her purchase of her parent’s property is also under the same scrutiny. How Shumate remains at DMR drawing a paycheck defies the imagination.
Next up Michael Newsom takes a stab at the DMR purchase of the old Winn Dixie property in the Pass. A couple of things stuck out at me the first being that the story photo appears to be the property across the street from the parcel purchased by DMR. Following is an aerial photo of the location with the slab and parking lot of the old Winn Dixie still visible.
We’ve been here and done this property on Slabbed way back on November 5 of last year. The Sun Herald protected the identity of the beneficiary of this DMR friends and family program purchase, Jackson based developer Gary Cress in their story. I well remember when the Pass Winn Dixie closed a month or so before Katrina. Cress was planning to develop the parcel into condos. The parcel across Henderson Avenue sold the summer before Hurricane Katrina for $800,000 with an eye toward the same purpose.
The $800,000 parcel on the right, over 3 acres of land, is lower in elevation than the Cress parcel and had never been developed since Hurricane Camille for that reason. It would seem to fit the DMR criteria for land purchases better than the old Winn Dixie site. It should also be lost on no one that land values on the Mississippi Coast reached their zenith that summer before Katrina as condomania swept the land. Today the parcel on the right is for sale by owner and I’m guessing the reason it has not sold, despite being on the market close to 7 years, is due to overvaluation associated with the original purchase in the summer of 2005. Continue reading “DMR Scandal Day 88: Screwing the pooch starring Billy Walker, the FBI and the Chipper”