- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Former D’Iberville manager Michael Janus will change his plea on charges that he defrauded the city of $180,000 in grant money after admitting his guilt to FBI agents in an interview last year.

A change-of-plea hearing will be held Monday before U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett in Hattiesburg, according to court documents filed Friday.

Janus and former Ocean Springs mayoral candidate Scott Walker were indicted in November on five counts: conspiracy to defraud the federal government, fraud, bribery and two counts of money laundering.

Lawyers for Janus and Walker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday. Janus is free on bond.

Late last month, Walker’s lawyer moved for his client to be tried separately from Janus, saying Janus had incriminated himself in an interview with FBI agents in January 2013. The pair had been set for a joint trial March 10.

In an excerpt of an FBI report filed as part of the motion, Janus told agents that he and Walker had worked together in 2011 to defraud the Harrison County city of $180,000. They decided to give 6 percent of D’Iberville’s $3 million grant from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to Maxwell-Walker Consulting, a company Walker and Pascagoula Mayor Robbie Maxwell controlled. In exchange for getting the false invoice approved, the indictment said Walker put $40,000 into the checking account of JaWa Investments LLC, a company Walker and Janus jointly formed in 2010.

Janus said that on his own, without the initial approval of the City Council, Janus signed a contract to pay Maxwell-Walker a 6 percent consultant fee for any grant money they received,” Walker’s lawyer quoted the FBI document as saying.

The court document says Janus told agents that he and Walker agreed in advance that Walker would transfer some of the consulting fee to JaWa and the men would invest in Biloxi’s Columns Bar.

Janus stated that he knew he was receiving a monetary benefit and knew that it was wrong,” the document says. “Janus became very upset during the interview and said … Walker had gotten him into the deal.”

Walker is also indicted in a separate federal case along with his father and former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Director Bill Walker, as well as two other former MDMR officials. They’re charged with misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money that the agency controlled.

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