Former M.D.M.R. Chief of Staff, Joe Ziegler, Sentenced

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The tenth and final player in the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (M.D.M.R.) corruption case was sentenced in federal court Monday in Hattiesburg.

Former M.D.M.R. Chief of Staff, Joe Ziegler, is sentenced to three years’ probation, which includes 90 days of house arrest for concealing a felony. He must also pay $184,487.28 cents in restitution.

Ziegler pleaded guilty to the crime in august. In exchange, federal prosecutors dropped the three original charges against him, which were conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud. Prosecutors allege Ziegler conspired with former M.D.M.R. Executive Director, Bill Walker, and his son, Scott Walker, to funnel $315,000 intended for the M.D.M.R. to a private foundation Bill Walker controlled.

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Joe Same Owen, Ziegler’s attorney, says, “What Joe plead guilty to was not reporting criminal activity. He had an affirmative duty, as he told the judge, to realize or to ascertain that there was criminal activity. At least he should have made inquiry as to that and he didn’t do it. He basically signed these checks in blank, which being a co-signature, basically constituted concealment.”

Ziegler was the last of ten individuals to be sentenced as part of the state and federal investigation into the M.D.M.R., bringing the case to an end.

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