GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - The former head of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is back out of jail and will remain free as long as he pays $5,000 a month for restitution in a public corruption case.
Bill Walker had been jailed since Sept. 19 for failing to make the payments.
Walker appeared Monday before U.S. Magistrate Keith Starrett in Gulfport. The judge could have returned Walker to prison to serve the last two years of a five-year sentence. Instead, Starrett released him after a short hearing.
“Walker had breached the trust of the court, but it’s time served,” Starrett said, according to WLOX-TV .
Walker has 60 days to repay $35,000, and he wrote a check for $5,000 Monday.
“I will make this right,” Walker said.
Starrett ordered Walker to sell or refinance his home
The Sun Herald reported that during the hearing, Walker said he was working to cut expenses. Walker and his wife will sell her Mercedes-Benz and a Land Rover that their son Scott Walker was driving.
Bill Walker pleaded guilty in 2014 to conspiring to defraud the government by using federal aid to buy land Scott Walker owned. He left prison in November and was supposed to begin paying $5,000 a month in restitution 30 days later. Bill Walker has argued that his income is too low to make required payments toward $573,000 in restitution and a $125,000 fine
In February, Starrett refused to reduce payments, finding Bill Walker and his wife had more than $16,000 in monthly income, plus other assets. Bill Walker argued then that he and his wife had monthly expenses of more than $15,000.
Scott Walker also was convicted in the public corruption case but is making his monthly restitution payments of $750, court records show. He made an additional lump-sum payment on a portion of the restitution that he and his father jointly owe when he sold a beachfront home in Ocean Springs.
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