- Associated Press - Monday, November 10, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - The Department of Marine Resources’ former chief of staff must repay Mississippi $184,000 and spend three years on probation, including 90 days of house arrest for concealing a felony, says a federal judge.

District Judge Keith Starrett sentenced Joe Ziegler on Monday in Hattiesburg, the Sun Herald (https://bit.ly/1ugdTdw) of Biloxi reported.

Ziegler is the last of seven department workers to be sentenced as a result of federal and state investigations that sent former department director Bill Walker to prison for five years.

Ziegler and attorney Sam Owen told Starrett that Ziegler and others put misplaced trust in someone in the department. Outside court, Owen said that person was Walker.

“I placed my trust in an individual I thought to be trustworthy,” Ziegler told the judge. “I’m sorry that I put my family - my wife, my children, my grandchildren - through all of this.”



When Ziegler pleaded guilty in August, prosecutors dropped two counts of mail fraud and one of conspiracy.

Prosecutors said he plotted with Walker and Walker’s son, consultant Scott Walker, to move $315,000 meant for the department to a private foundation controlled by Walker.

Scott Walker is supposed to report to prison by Dec. 1 to begin serving an 18-month sentence.

Five other DMR employees pleaded guilty and were sentenced in state Circuit Court.

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

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