Bill Walker will serve five years behind bars in a federal prison. The maximum sentence was handed down in federal court Monday to the former Director of the Department of Marine Resources (M.D.M.R.).
Sixty months in prison, that's how long the former Executive Director will have to spend behind bars for his role in a major corruption scandal that took down several M.D.M.R. employees, a city manager, and the director's own son. Flanked by his wife, Sharon, daughter-in-law, Trinity, and son, who has also pleaded guilty to fraud charges, Bill Walker made his way into a federal courtroom in Hattiesburg. On Friday, Bill Walker's attorney, William Kirksey, filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge, Keith Starrett, to grant his client leniency at Monday's sentencing, pointing out his client had no criminal history, did not commit a violent crime, and is at an advanced age. According to local Ocean Springs lawyer, William Guice, who is not representing anyone in this case, the defense made the right move.
Guice says, "They need to show why the court does not need to follow the guideline, because they can be harsh." Instead, the federal judge gave the former M.D.M.R. Director the maximum prison sentence, five years, and ordered Walker to pay more than $570,000 in restitution and a fine of $125,000. Kirksey says, "He stood up, did what a man should do, accepted the responsibility for his actions, and now he’s of course gonna’ serve his time with grace and will start his life over when he gets out." Bill Walker left the court Monday, but won't be a free man for long. He is scheduled to report to prison on Thursday.
Guice closes, "A less violent criminal or a white collar criminal, they are often given an opportunity to get their affairs in order once they know the sentence." Meanwhile, his son, Scott Walker, awaits sentencing for similar charges. He'll be in court on July 23rd. News 25’s partners at the Sun Herald have requested copies of the letters written on Walker's behalf. The judge granted their request.