Tag Archives: Scott Walker (Ocean Springs)

The dog ate it: Stacey Pickering reveals under oath that he has no control over his employees at the State Auditor’s Office

I’m not sure where to start on today’s performance by Stacey Pickering in the contempt hearing being held in Chancery Court Judge Jennifer Schloegel’s courtroom in Gulfport but this snippet from the latest Sun Herald update seems a logical starting point:

Pickering’s chief of investigations, David Huggins, admitted under oath at the contempt hearing Wednesday that Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy subpoenaed records from the Department of Marine Resources to avoid making them public.

Since we don’t have a transcript the above raises some serious questions and it plays into something I heard from the mean streets of Jackson.  The question is whether Huggins actively worked with Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy to deprive the Mississippi public of access to their own records.  This much is clear, if we take that snippet at face value then Dowdy was complicit on some level and this goes back to what I heard. This twitter exchange explains it.

Now who is Joel Smith one might ask? (And asked I was by a reader from Central Mississippi) He is the District Attorney for Harrison, Hancock and Stone Counties and the guy in charge of the indictments of the former DMR employees charged with padding their travel by a few thousand dollars. The Federal Grand Jury subpoena of the DMR records went down in close time proximity to the state and federal indictments so this relationship is salient. Continue reading

Inside the investigation: Who tattooed Scott Walker’s mortgage on the lot that DMR purchased via the Land Trust

Vital background via Anita Lee can be found here.

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.

Stay tuned.

By popular demand: Of home furnishings and ‘culture of corruption’……

But first some lovely music:

)

Pickering: DMR probe may reveal “culture of corruption” ~ Da Noose

Auditor Pickering had to get out in front of the rampant rumor mill and boy did he! So what do we know now?  Here are a few observations.

Today’s multiple choice question? Who paid for certain of the furniture in Scott Walker’s beachfront house in Ocean Springs

  • A. The Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation
  • B. The MIssissippi Department of Marine Resources
  • C. The Estate of Michael Jackson
  • D. Trick Question, Only schmucks pay for their own furniture

As those of you reading certain of Slabbed’s recent DMR posts know, it seems as though all the dirty laundry is coming out. In fact it truly is all coming out.

With an eye towards the future I’ll disclose that for some reason I missed the fact that Mrs. Walker hails from the land of Dizzy Dean and it is entirely possible, in fact highly probable, that my peeps know her peeps.  I mention this because of my prior experience interviewing spouses of convicted felons can not be gainsaid.  I can supply references and I think they will all say that Handshoe was very fair.

For now let’s just put a circle around all this for later use.

Bump: Taxpayers on the hook in D’Iberville after consulting scam collapses

RFP in comments on Today’s auditing moment: Fictitious Vendor Embezzlement

The forecast is for increased heat in the City of D’Iberville.
Ocean Expo’s delay means taxpayers may pay first bond note

D’IBERVILLE — City officials expected Ocean Expo Aquarium to be built and open by now and ticket prices to cover the cost of repaying the bond to purchase the land.

Instead the city may have to make the initial $318,668 payment — due in September — out of the general fund.

A visit to EMMA has been scheduled to do some digging into the official statement.

Additional Ocean Expo:
Can anyone provide information on the contract for site work at the Ocean Expo site?

IMMS solicited bids for “site preparation Phase 1″; the Daily Journal Of Commerce Gulf Coast (see page 17) reported that a local firm by the name of SH Anthony was among the plan holders. Bids were due on August 9, 2012. Was a contract let? Or was this the work that Harrison County did? (See Sun Herald article).

“A clean, good opinion”!? Which one???

I always get a charge from local press coverage of GAGAS / SIngle Audit presentations because what are seemingly simple concepts are actually mind numbingly arcane.  Luckily for the reader, my mind has previously been numbed with this bit of arcanity so along those lines I got a chuckle at Mary Perez’s rendition of the D’Iberville City Council meeting where their FYE September 30, 2012 SIngle Audit report was presented.

First things first folks as the audit submission is late (it was due on June 30, 2013) and that gives a clue as to the state of the finance department at the City.  Good, clean records are easy to audit and those entities with good, clean records typically are not late with audit submissions. In fact, my experience has been that auditees with good, clean records typically have their audits wrapped up 3 to 4 months after the fiscal year end.  In the private sector 3 months after Fiscal year end is typically considered timely for audit completion by way of comparison.

The second thing is Mary’s report quotes the CPA firm representative as saying the firm’s opinion was unqualified which in turn is a “clean, good opinion”.  My question is which opinion because there are something like 4 or 5 auditor opinion letters contained in a single audit and from the sound of things the City of D’Iberville’s operations are anything but “clean” and “good” as there is double dealing galore there beginning with DMR but not ending there as internal controls over grants and contracts appear nonexistent along with gaping holes in the cash disbursement processes.  That much was clear from Mary’s report and there is nothing good or clean about that.

And then of course there is that pesky FBI investigation into the Utility Authority, SH Anthony Construction Company along with Maxwell Walker Consulting and their curious contract with the City.  And while my experience has been that FBI agents are meticulous in their grooming, there is nothing good and clean about having the FBI about investigating government corruption. Continue reading

We have a final IG report on the DMR Coastal Impact Program

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:

Final OIG Report on CIAP Capture 1

That pesky Billy Walker mud hole claims another victim in Judy Steckler, who joins the Walker and Shumate families in the local conflict of Interest club. Continue reading

See why it is time for Vern and pals to go, know what I mean?

Behold the terrible price of unbridled greed!

Inspector general audit questions millions in CIAP grants at DMR ~ Anita Lee and Paul Hampton

Unfortunately the piece does not have the actual draft report but it is safe to say this is what happens when a gaggle of uninterested stooges, distracted by toys and freebie deep sea fishing trips comprises the Board of Directors of any entity. In fact dysfunctional Boards of Directors are the norm in these situations.  And when a Federal Auditor issues a finding and question cost, that does not mean the auditor has a question about something. Rather it is the first and most important step in making a (sub)grantee gone bad pay misspent money back.  The Commission of Marine Resources, per their power under the Mississippi Code, had to approve each and every one of these specious transactions.  Just like with the Housing Authority of Jefferson Parish, given what we know about the extent of the problems, the odds of having to pay back massive sums of money back are overwhelming. In that respect it matters not the audit is not final.

Today’s cost to the taxpayers of Mississippi: $30 $12 million dollars.

The IG evidently had a little something for everyone, even my peeps in the land of Dizzy Dean:

A grant totaling about $1 million, including $788,300 added through an amendment, has been designated for the Old Wire Road Trail Project in Stone County, a 20-mile asphalt trail along an old telegraph line. Stone County, the audit says, “is a land-locked county not designated as an eligible recipient for CIAP grants.”

Stone County’s grant consultant, Nell Murray, also serves as a commissioner for the Heritage Area, as did six others who either managed or potentially benefited from CIAP money, the audit says. Murray could not be reached to comment.

There is one Slabbed reader that, when I point out something way in the inside or drop a major stink bomb, will contact me and the greeting is laughter. Welp folks, I can envision this conversation:

Hehehehehehehe Nell Murray Hehehehehehehe

Nell have a conflict of interest??? Who wudda thunk such a thing? Continue reading

I would like to acknowledge the rampant rumor mill regarding DMR and Utility Authority related indictments

Cause it’s out there folks. With the benefit of my prior experience covering an active Federal criminal investigation, the key is to figure out who is squealing and the most reliable source of that information is usually the squealer, as was the case with Tim Whitmer. Along those lines Sean Anthony has been reported in comments here as cooperating with the authorities. I’m not ready to call such at this point but my experience has been the business people truly know where all the “bones are buried” for it is they that are the puppet masters.

I have some additional thoughts that, with a bit of luck,  I’ll share later.

DMR Scandal Day 136: “In God we trust, all others we audit.” Not…..

In God we trust, all others we audit. ~ Former State Auditor Phil Bryant.

It was massive accounting frauds at ENRON and WorldCom that led to government regulation of large swaths of the CPA profession and deservedly so I’ll add.  For instance at ENRON there was an ossified, ineffectual Board of Directors stacked with politically connected phonies like Senator Phil Gramm’s wife Wendy, an economist that could rationalize about anything. At DMR, by their own admission we have a Board of Trustees that had no clue what was going on and who evidently did not bother to engage their jobs beyond the free boat rides, fishing trips etc.  When the people that are supposed to be running the show are asleep at the switch bad things happen as we found out at ENRON and now DMR.

ENRON used off balance sheet special purpose entities or (SPE in accounting lingo) as a major vehicle for much of the criminal activity that occurred   DMR director Bill Walker created an off books foundation that sucked all manner of tax dollars away from DMR’s  mission to support the boats Walker used to wine and dine everyone on the taxpayer dime and lord knows what else.

And speaking of what else I detailed some of it as it relates to Hancock County’s role in the CIAP disaster.  None of these schemes are particularly innovative and in fact are of the in your face variety.  When there is no oversight to begin with why bother with the bells and whistles of a complex corruption enterprise like the one Aaron Broussard created in Jefferson Parish. Lest I digress.

Governor Phil should well remember from his time as State Auditor that in 1992  the Governmental Accounting Standards Board issued GASB Statement 14, The Financial Reporting Entity under which Billy Walker’s Private Foundation certainly fell.  Yet here is Walker with his own private slush fund buying millions of dollars of fishing boats and lord knows what else and no one knew anything about it.  The question ladies and gents is what does this say about the level of oversight at these state agencies?  Simple folks, despite Governor Phil serially saying for years at speaking engagements “In God we trust, all others we audit”, nobody was auditing his coast based political cronies at DMR, or even worse if someone did audit them there is an audit failure of massive proportion. It is just that bad folks but we already know all this from months ago.

And all those days ago seeing where this would end up was too predictable:

DMR hasn’t been audited by the state in over 10 years ~ Michael Newsom Continue reading