- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - A Vicksburg man will plead guilty Feb. 19 to federal charges related to the theft of money from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Action Agency in Gulfport.

Donald Walton, 51, a contractor, is one of three people charged in the case.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/16m0cB1 ) the attorney for Walton filed the change of plea notice Monday in U.S. District Court. A plea date has been set for Feb. 19.

Walton; Linda Harvey-Irvin of Gulfport, the agency’s former director; and Markuntala Croom of Columbia, a contractor, are accused of federal program fraud and other charges.

The agency receives federal money to operate the Head Start program.

Prosecutors said Walton alleged conspired to commit federal program fraud by accepting and paying bribes. According to the indictment, Harvey-Irvin through the GCCAA awarded $365,282.20 in construction contracts to Walton’s business, Walton Construction. In exchange for the contracts, Walton allegedly paid Harvey-Irvin $31,000 in kickbacks.

In a second indictment, Harvey-Irvin through GCCAA allegedly paid Croom $649,047 in consultant contracts in exchange for Croom paying Harvey-Irvin $91,961 in kickbacks. Croom and Harvey-Irvin, according to the indictment, then tried to hide the payoffs by making cash deposits into a bank account Harvey-Irvin set up.

All three are free on bond.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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