A few thoughts on the Bill Walker sentencing

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! ~ Galatians 2:21

Give ‘em a show that’s so splendiferous, row after row will grow vociferous.. ~ Fictional lawyer Bill Flynn

Both of those quotes come to mind to explain what I saw on Monday in Hattiesburg at Bill Walker’s sentencing. Let’s start with the part that is guaranteed to raise the collective blood pressure of the residents of South Mississippi. Michael Janus and Scott Walker did a fair amount of mutual backslapping during the break between Janus’ sentencing and Bill Walker’s hearing. It did not violate proper courtroom personal decorum in my opinion but given the circumstances I thought it was a bit odd.

Bill Walker OTOH barely spoke a word instead relying on his lawyer Bill Kirksey, who Judge Starett concluded “well represented” Walker before he sentenced him to 60 months in prison and this gets us to the “splendiferous” part. You gotta figure Walker paid a fortune for Kirksey’s professional services, the most practical application of which meant that most everyone assembled in the courtroom got a small share of misery. To set up that which I am speaking we need to start with some lovely music:

To set up my understanding of the legal issues involved Bill Walker pleaded guilty to an offense that carries a maximum of 5 years in prison. His pre-sentencing report, because of the fact Walker has not cooperated etc contained several sentencing enhancements including one that derived from the amount of money the guy looted from the public’s purse and thus the ultimate amount that would be entered into the record became the subject of a dispute between Team Walker and the US Attorney. For my part, I figured out quickly that in the end that particular dispute would have no impact on Bill Walker’s sentence and this is where the misery comes in as Bill Kirksey called Chris Lott with the State Auditor’s office to the witness stand. Kirksey exploited the fact that State Auditor Pickering settled his civil demand against Walker for a fraction of the original civil demand. He also exploited the fact that Lott played a fools game trying to differentiate the business and personal use of the Californian and Topaz, the boats owned by the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation, a special purpose entity designed to benefit Bill Walker personally. Kirksey dismantled Lott which set up his examination of FBI Forensic Accountant Nancy “Colleen” Davis.

Davis calculated the amount of the loss related to Walker’s criminal activity at a total close to $1.8MM. In that total there were additional underlying calculations such as the illegal expenditures out of the Foundation itself, which Walker funded with taxpayer funds that he diverted for his criminal activity. Another calculation related to the amounts spent by DMR directly on the boats. Agent Davis did better than Lott but Kirksey managed to confuse both her and the judge mixing and matching the different pots of money along with the fact Auditor Pickering settled his office’s civil demand against Walker for pennies on the dollar. Davis’ calculation was spot on in my professional opinion and the reason she is spot on is also why the Auditor’s office played a fools game differentiating between business and personal use of the boats.

For instance Agent Davis correctly stated the public money Bill Walker diverted and then looted from the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation never belonged to the Foundation so it was a complete loss in total with the exception of the small amount of residual funds recovered. IMHO she should have also forcefully argued the fact that the DMR expenditures on the boats was also a 100% loss without prorating between Walker’s business and personal use of the boats because THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF MARINE RESOURCES DID NOT OWN THE CALIFORNIAN AND TOPAZ. This is why I find it so strange the State Auditor’s office actually gave Walker the benefit of the doubt.

As for me, knowing the right answer, not being able to speak up, coupled with the fact Mr. Kirksey was quite disagreeable gave me the urge to want to smack Bill Walker. Judge Starett split the baby on the loss, reducing it by several hundred thousand dollars to no ultimate difference in the sentence. It is at this point I gotta give the AP’s Jeff Amy credit because he had the new loss number figured before Judge Starett and Agent Davis. By that point in the hearing most everyone in the press corps was shifting around in their seats waiting for the hangin’, umm I mean sentencing and this brings me back to that Galatians verse that lead off this post.

Michaela Hill was not forgotten folks and the account of the events which lead to her tragic suicide was contained in the Walker pre-sentencing report. Team Walker wanted it stricken from the report while the prosecution was adamant on keeping it in. On that issue Judge Starett sided with the prosecution. The pre-sentencing report is a sealed document that is not available to the public as a general rule but as I have mentioned several times Mrs. Hill’s family blames Bill Walker for what happened to her. According to lore, Walker was attempting to keep Mrs. Hill on the reservation (and away from the OIG auditors and FBI agents) by threatening to throw her under the bus for his misdeeds. She could not take the pressure Walker heaped on her thus her tragic end. I hope Mrs Hill’s family derives a measure of comfort from the inclusion of that part of the saga in the document which was used to send Bill Walker off to prison.

Finally, in my opinion Bill Walker will soon leave for prison firmly in denial. Years of self entitlement and crushing people that get in the way tends to do that to a person I think. He’ll have lots of time to think about it though when he reports to prison.

Still on tap are the Joe Ziegler and Tina Shumate federal trials along with the state cases against Kerwin Cuevas and Tina Shumate. Kerwin Cuevas is particularly interesting because in addition to the artificial reef program he also served as Bill Walker’s personal skipper on the Foundation boats. I suspect he knows where lots of bodies are buried.

Stay tuned because more muck promises to bubble up before this is done.

13 thoughts on “A few thoughts on the Bill Walker sentencing”

  1. Thanks to SLABBED for keeping us informed and kudos to the Sun Herald for their coverage on the Walkergate issue. Even though Walker and Janus did not get 50 years in the clinker like they should have, I am perturbed that the FBI has not charged Harris, Ms. Walker, Maxwell, Palazzo, Reynolds – to only name a few. There is no way they do not have enough information to arrest them. What is the story there SLABBED?

  2. IMHO it was a classic golden triangle operation, there were a lot of important people playing on these boats. On board were the spenders, the funders, and their arrangers and enablers. Allowing the figleafs of denial and feigned surprise to remain is not a small thing for those unlucky enough to be splattered by the mud, but not criminally charged or subject to restitution demands.

    For instance Agent Davis correctly stated the public money Bill Walker diverted and then looted from the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation never belonged to the Foundation so it was a complete loss in total with the exception of the small amount of residual funds recovered. IMHO she should have also forcefully argued the fact that the DMR expenditures on the boats was also a 100% loss with no pro-ration between business and personal use of the boats because THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF MARINE RESOURCES DID NOT OWN THE CALIFORNIAN AND TOPAZ. This is is why I find it so strange the State Auditor’s office actually gave Walker the benefit of the doubt.

    I don’t find it strange, but it sure is a beneficial approach for some who by rights should be at the pointed end in this. Instead, they get to reprise Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca.

    “Oh, please, monsieur. It is a little game we play. They put it on the bill, I tear up the bill. It is very convenient.”

    “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

  3. Great post Mr. Slabbed. While we know for certain that Bill Walker will serve up to 5 years in prison unless he dies first I personally do not think that is all the punishment he will receive. As a life long Catholic from a long line of Catholics I was taught you could repent through suffering in Purgatory after death if your sins are not too great. Bill Walker’s soul, if he has not already sold it, will go straight to hell and remain for eternity. He is pure evil and deserves what is in store for him.

    1. I’m told he blew his chance at being Queen for a day. If that is true he is still rationalizing what he’s done.

  4. It is easy to find out that the “yachts” in question do not belong to the State (or did not). I am not sure of the reasoning, but Mr. Lott chose not to cross that bridge for some reason. If those boats belonged to the DMR, they would have State numbers on them or some type of identification. It is an absolute NO NO to spend Tax dollars on items that do not belong to the State. When one of the past accounting employees pointed that out in State law to the head of the Purchasing Dept, he just got another employee to go ahead and do the procurement. Then Walker, Zeigler, and others railroaded the honest employee and her husband with made-up accusations. These were long-term dedicated employees. Her husband was there before Walker was the Director!!! But they pushed them right out the door so that their agenda could continue right on. Everyone looked the other way, and the rest of the purchasing department kept on buying anything that Walker and Zeigler told them to buy.
    They ran the hatchery manager away from the Lyman Fish Hatchery also. This woman had an excellent work ethic and fish production record. I was told that they flooded the house she was living in on the hatchery and Joe Zeigler kicked her office door in. The house she was living in was torn down (by the way, that was State owned property). They dug a hole and buried that brick house!!! Who ordered that??? Then they moved an animal care agency up there and built them a brand new facility. Then they hired the Byrd family up there at exorborant prices (and others also), and paid Sue Barnes additional fees (see State records) for “miscellaneous” (I believe it was $30K each 6 months) while she was working at the Gulf Coast Research Lab.
    You need to find that woman that they got rid of from the Fish Hatchery. I am not sure why they wanted the fish hatchery, (other than to repair and refurbish those yachts), but a farce of fish production has been going on up there and the gates that used to be opened every week -day (I know because I visited there) are now locked up tight (I know because I tried to visit there on several occasions again to bird watch). Can someone tell me if this is part of Palazzo’s gang doing this? How can I locate the woman who used to work at the Lyman Hatchery? Where did she go? Have the FEDS contacted her? I bet she could tell you where the bodies are buried.
    Great job Douglas and Sun Herald. You are great supporters of the right cause. Thank you again Judge Starett and Judge Schloegel. Please keep on fighting for what is right!

  5. Did I just read that in his presentence report, Walker has not cooperated? He deserves the max!
    Ms. Davis is right because the DMR never owned those boats and even if they did, the DMR did not need them. They were chosen for splendor and comfort. No research ever went on, just trips to Mexico and Louisiana and the rigs for the in-crowd of mostly Republican politicos, like McKay and Wiggins and everyone on Palazzo’s staff. There was NO business use at all. Harris chose the best ones and kept them for this private party fleet. DMR owns lots of suitable boats for any kind of reef inspection or sampling anywhere in Mississippi. If I read the Sun_Herald right, they were retrofitted with super playboy engines just for the sex appeal. All the expenses should have been fraudulent! In addition some other boats were supplied with engines and slips and were billed to the Californian’s upkeep.

    Doug I appreciate your coverage and I have a favor to ask.Where can you get ahold of those numbers that were testified to by the FBI and the State Auditor? Are they public record? Look, you know accounting and I don’t but, hey, if it was my small business and those were losses, there’s a HUGE HUGE ASTONISHING difference between $362,689 (reported by Anita Lee) that Pickering said Walker owed and the sum of $1,881,000 that the Feds calculated. Add to that Stacy’s hurry to sweep the boats under the rug before the next election and he got rid of the evidence for literally pennies. Plus, here we go with the Laura C, again not owned by DMR but somehow Harris does not have to pay the bill? DMR paid yard fees for that boat for two years in Biloxi and everyone at the yards knows it.
    Looks to me like Pickering is caving in and minimizing and getting rid of the evidence instead going after our money like he should. it makes horrible sense to me if you see the big picture…Barbour/Bryant want the fuss kept at a minimum for the Republicans and the Feds are Democrats…Eric Holder does not care if the Republican party in MS has a black eye or not. Especially when we now know that Palazzo’s daddy got part of the CIAP loot along with Harris again. Doug, why the disparity in those sums???

    1. Another accounting question Doug. If Walker converted all of this money for his own use is he obligated to pay federal income taxes on the amounts as ordinary income? What is outrageous about Stacey Pickering is the number of small people he brags about getting every penny from and allows the members of the Marine Resource Foundation walk without a dollar out of pocket. They gave up rights to the 30 year old boats that were donated and then retrofitted with taxpayer money. I guess we will never see what they said about Ms. Hill. I hope one day the family decides the public should know what they know. Also the boat captain/owner of the charter vessel Walker always used said he would tell what he knew once the investigation was over. I hope everybody with the smallest amount of info about these crooks tells all

    2. A transcript of the hearing should be available via the court. Slabbed New Media does not have funds to pay the transcription costs.

      And yes, Chris Lott ended up being an effective defense witness.

  6. Maybe Pickering and co. should be investigated by the Feds for how they handled the investigation and overlooked certain wrongdoings and certain people. Walker doesn’t have to pay back all of this money he stole from our state, but Pickering went after low level employees for $600 and $900. How much did it cost the state to recover those small amounts?

    And if there was evidence that Walker threatened Ms. Hill, couldn’t he also be charged with tampering with a witness or some such?

    It makes you wonder if Chris Lott has really decided not to cross certain bridges or if he has a puppet master pulling his strings. I’m sure law enforcement officers must take some type of oath, and to turn your head to illegal activity certainly would be a violation of their code.

  7. Transcript, hmmm. If anyone appeals anything, it should be available then because it will get filed with the appeal, right? And any exhibits. Thanks, Doug.

    I also want to know why the D.A. for Harrison county didn’t file state charges on Walker. Even if Pickering’s greatly discounted figure of $362, 689 is correct, can you really “misspend” that much of state money and not be prosecuted? Hello?

  8. If Harrison County’s DA is as effective as Jackson County’s DA, it would be a waste of time to bring charges since all one has to do is look at the trial and slap on the wrist of former sheriff Mike Byrd.

    Another reason why Mississippi is the ‘Most Corrupt State in the Nation’.

  9. I saw a tweet to the right of the screen that stated “Mrs. Walker and the Heberts.” I am not sure what that was about but as most of us know, the Hebert Family is deeply entrenched within the regime.

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