Shumate allegedly approached the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain about buying the property. The Land Trust and Scott Walker signed a sales contract in April 2011.
Shumate’s attorney, Tim Holleman of Gulfport, who attended the plea hearing, said afterward that Shumate maintains her innocence. He noted that the government alleges Bill Walker “directed” her to approach the Land Trust, not that she conspired with the Walkers. But she is included in the conspiracy charge with the Walkers.
I seem to remember that a conspiracy could involve other acts. Shumate’s purchase of her parent’s property with Coastal Impact funds could be one such possible act the prosecutors would use. The Good Book appears to back this understanding.
It will be interesting to see if Shumate and Ziegler cave or take this into a courtroom. Both have top notch legal representation.
Yesterday Paul Hampton and Karen Nelson teamed up in a What’s Next with DMR piece for the Sunday Sun Herald and in it the paper laid a few cards down on the table. You see folks, I have a source that has been pretty accurate for certain aspects of the DMR investigation and one of the last things this person shared with me was that the public records that are subject to the Sun Herald’s lawsuit against DMR that were subsequently subpoenaed by the US Attorney to thwart the paper getting access to them contained absolutely no smoking guns or evidence of additional illegal activity.
If that is the case then the natural question that comes to mind is exactly WTF Stacey Pickering and company are doing defying the orders of Chancery Court Judge Jennifer Schloegel to turn those records over for the inspection by the Sun Herald. Yesterday when the Sun Herald laid a couple cards down it also confirmed something else the same source mentioned to me, namely that many of the documents sought by the Sun Herald were already in their possession via leak. Here is the salient excerpt:
But through records leaked to the newspaper, the Sun Herald learned about a few things Walker bought through the fund — a $27,500 sponsorship for the 11th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment in Washington, D.C.; a work computer for the daughter of a friend and neighbor employed by the DMR; and the hiring of special contract workers.
Nothing in the above indicates illegal activity IMHO, perhaps a wasting of tax dollars but nothing illegal on its face. Worth noting is these records have been gathering dust for almost a year and evidently neither the State or Feds had done anything with them until the Sun Herald gained court ordered access. This is another factor as to why that Federal subpoena for those public records is such a curiosity. Continue reading “Laying down their cards: “What’s next with DMR investigations?””
The land deal closed 12 days before Scott Walker’s final, lump-sum payment was due on a loan at Merchants & Marine Bank, Jackson County land records show.
Walker had used the property in July 2008 as collateral on a $310,590 loan, which called for monthly payments of $2,775. The balance and all interest payments were due July 25, 2011, although the terms did allow for loan extension or modification.
Tattoo? I heard that word most from investment bankers doing M&A work a decade or so ago. Tatoos are not easily removed, especially those given a bank by a family member to induce the extension of credit to someone that is not otherwise creditworthy enough on their own to nab a $310,590 loan.
But before we get to that I think we can now conclude that Jamie Miller released the preliminary report months after the fact in order to soften the blow in the final report, which he certainly knew was close to completion when he leaked the first report out to the Sun Herald.
I have skimmed the report and besides all the bad things we already knew about double dealing Billy Walker and his family along with Tina Shumate and her family, left unmentioned anywhere in the media to this point is the fact both the preliminary and final reports are damning to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, an organization both the Sun Herald and Slabbed identified early on since they served as financial intermediary in the DMR purchase of Scott Walker’s land,
Individuals connected to the Land Trust not speaking in an official capacity indicated to Slabbed the Walker purchase technically met the guidelines as property worthy of preservation. I noted the Inspector General does not seem to buy into that notion. Even worse, the OIG identifies a conflict of interest no one seemed to notice. Here is the specific verbiage from the final OIG report:
Anita Lee is a champ as she and Karen Nelson tag team the next installment of as The Land Trust Turns. In what turns out to be a weird cosmic twist of fate, I too spoke with Melanie Allen with the Land Trust in her capacity as an individual board member not speaking for the Entire Board of Directors or organization. The information she conveyed to me greatly enhanced my understanding of the events surrounding the purchase of Scott Walker’s lot by the Land Trust, acting in the role of financial intermediary for DMR at the behest of CIAP Administrator Tina Shumate, also on the Land Trust Board of Directors. There was one question that Ms Allen could not answer for me but before I get to that I want to emphasize the Land Trust Board is taking this very seriously and have engaged the issues the transaction has brought to the fore.
That said it is also true the same board still contain a cancerous element because the people at the top of the Land Trust have/had financial relationships with DMR. Let’s start with the comment I just left on Anita’s story:
Absolutely these financial relationships were ignored in their decision making. The majority of the board allowed themselves to be led down the primrose path by people with a financial stake at DMR. And there is no doubt they had to know the connection between the seller and DMR.
The question they should have asked themselves is, if the money were not being provided to do this deal, would we buy this parcel over the lot next door that was still relatively pristine? The money being provided to make the deal work was a red flag.
A reader that knows the lay of the land at the Land Trust sent me a few of the connections to Walker on the Land Trust’s Board of Directors as the reasons for the organization conspiring with Walker to allegedly perpetrate a crime comes into sharper focus:
Laura Bowie – Board President; works in an office in the DMR Bolton building at the pleasure of Bill Walker. She is paid by a different group.
In that same office is one of Bill’s long time best friends Phil Bass. Bass retired from the state and went to work for the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program. He is on loan from them.
John Bowie – Advisory Committee member, Laura’s husband. Works for the EPA.
Grant Larson – worked for Tina Shumate at the DMR
William Corky Perrett – worked for Bill at the DMR
Harold L. Holmes of Carriere said his resignation, announced in a Feb. 4 letter, was not related to a controversy over the nonprofit agency’s purchase of property from a state agency head’s son.
But alas I have an email where far different words were used by Mr Holmes. Lightweight and thin skinned would be two terms that appropriately describe this situation. Where do you think Anita got your cell phone number from Harold? It is no wonder these people on the Land Trust Board voted to help Billy Walker engage in what strongly appears to be criminal activity because clueless does not begin to describe them.
There are some people that tell me Doug, a blogger has no basis to deal with a McClatchy paper to warn me off linking the paper or working with select reporters. Oh Contrary.
The McClatchy remark above was not directed at the Sun Herald and I did not expect a link as I would have put something like “I’d like to remind my media friends of the creative commons license on the right sidebar” because certain NOLA TeeVee stations rip off Slabbed without thinking twice. That said the gang at the Sun Herald was kind enough to link my coverage of this and I do appreciate that.
I’ve learned there has been a resignation from the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain as a result of the investigation into wrongdoing uncovered in the Department of Interior OIG investigation into spending from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) program.
To date the Sun Herald has reported on two separate OIG reports on the subject as well as the fact then DMR director Bill Walker used the Land Trust as a financial intermediary to use CIAP funds to buy his son’s property. More recent reporting in the Sun Herald indicate major discrepancies in what Land Trust executive director Judy Steckler initially told the paper as reasons for the purchase versus what the transaction documents actually indicate. It looks and smells bad and there is no way around it.
Old Jefferson Parish salts immediately told me after reading the initial coverage of the DMR scandal that these boards were misled. At the end of this that sage prophesy will be born out. Slabbed is looking at what the oversight boards are doing today in response to what everyone is learning. Editorially we’ll continue to call out those that condone the corruption by doing nothing to correct what got us here.
“These are hard decisions,” said Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie, president of the board. “I know most all of us have worked with Kamran, but these are issues that transpired that we just can’t have. It had to happen.”
Pahlavan has worked for the Utility Authority for nearly 16 years. His salary was $122,000 per year.
Mayor Skellie clearly gets it. Props, kudos and more props for doing what is right. It is a shame other local boards embroiled in scandals such as the CMR, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain and the Bay-Waveland School Board chose another route and circled the wagons defending the indefensible. In fairness to the CMR they did finally do the right thing when their own jobs were put on the line by Gov Phil.
The contractor in question has also contributed heavily to certain Jefferson Parish officials. If I were on the Utility Authority board I’d be very, very wary.
Folks, we now have a free for all at DMR as Billy Walker and his co conspirators to the looting of the agency for their personal benefit are finally being thrown under the bus by Interim DMR Director Danny Guice and the embattled Commission on Marine Resources. I mention this because months after Tina Shumate’s double dealing was exposed by the Sun Herald, both her and her political hack sister have finally been let go from DMR. It is not nearly enough.
By all accounts Guice, a career politician, wants the top job at DMR badly thus his conversion into some sort of good government activist. The Commission on Marine Resources OTOH, have been revealed as simpletons along the lines of the D’Iberville City Council, heaping praise on Walker despite the allegations right up to the bitter end. Clueless does not describe them, which is why they all need to go as these misdeeds happened on their watch when they were supposed to be providing oversight. They breached their fiduciary duty to the DMR and that is about the worst thing a board member can do. It is my hope that any money not recovered from Bill Walker and his band of theives is recovered from the Board members who oversaw the looting of the agency by Walker and his cronies.
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”