Watkins indicted for embezzlement in Madison County

Watkins

A Jackson developer with ties to a project in Meridian has been indicted on embezzlement charges in Madison County.

W. David Watkins, 68, turned himself in to authorities Wednesday night after being indicted on two counts for embezzling bond money intended for a development project he managed, Attorney General Jim Hood announced in a news release.

Watkins, 68, turned himself in to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department on one count of wire fraud and one count of embezzlement.

The indictment, which was handed down in October by a Madison County grand jury, charges he took $587,084.34 in bond proceeds from the Mississippi Business Finance Corporation while working as the managing member of development company Retro Metro, LLC in June 2011.

According to the indictment, the bonds were intended for construction costs for a project financed through bonds for which BankPlus in Ridgeland served as Trustee. The bond money was ultimately put toward Watkins’ own use, according to the indictment.

The wire fraud charge stems from the scheme being transmitted by telephone, wire, or other communication across county lines.

If convicted on all counts, Watkins faces up to 25 years in prison and $30,000 in fines. 

The indictment comes after a long legal battle for Watkins, who in 2014 was accused of securities fraud by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

In 2011, Watkins purchased the old Cowboy Maloney building on 22nd Avenue in Meridian with plans to renovate it and turn it into a station for the Meridian Police Department. The project was eventually completed in 2013.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, on June 8, 2011, Watkins wired $587,084.34 from Retro Metro's checking account to a real estate attorney in Meridian. This was related to a contract between the City of Meridian and Meridian Law Enforcement Center, LLC, which Watkins had formed for the police station project.

Last year, the Mississippi Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in that case and ordered Watkins to pay $676,000 in restitution, fines and costs.

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