Friday, January 11, 2013
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — The state auditor's office has served a subpoena for access to two key Mississippi Department of Marine Resources' financial accounts. That's according to a published report.
Assistant Attorney General Sandy Chesnut tells The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/WItUn4 ) that the auditor wants records from an account that holds disaster-relief money and from the Rigs to Reefs account.
The Sun Herald says it was denied access to the accounts by Chesnut, who said the documents had been subpoenaed and were now the subject of a criminal investigation.
The DMR has more than 4,000 pages of information and supporting documents associated with the disaster-relief account, Chesnut said.
The state auditor's investigation reportedly began in October when the agency seized various records of the MDMR.
The agency is also the focus of a federal audit by the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees some of the federal funding the MDMR manages.
The Sun Herald reported in November that it had obtained documents that showed the head of the MDMR approved public money from this account to buy a vacant lot in Gulf Hills that belonged to his son.
The newspaper reported in December the state agency used $1.46 million in public money from Rigs to Reefs to upgrade and maintain two recreational fishing boats owned by the private foundation Bill Walker, the suspended NDMR chief, also manages.
Citing these two investigations, the Commission on Marine Resources, which governs the MDMR, suspended Walker until the probes are concluded.