Construction company owner indicted for fraud

Published 11:00am Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Warren County construction company owner accused of bilking money out of a community action agency was indicted in federal court Wednesday.

Donald Walton, 51, who owns Walton Construction at 295 Walton Lane in the Freetown community, was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to commit federal program fraud by accepting bribes, U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis announced in email.

Gulf Coast Community Action Agency paid Walton approximately $365,282.20 and Walton, in turn, paid Linda Harvey-Irvin, 62, of Jackson, $31,000 in kickbacks for the awarding of those contracts, according to the indictment against him.

Attempts to reach Walton on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Harvey-Irvin, the former director of the agency and director of its associated Head Start Program, is charged with conspiracy to commit federal program fraud by accepting and paying bribes. She was also indicted Wednesday.

A second indictment charges Harvey-Irvin and Markuntala Croom, 45, of Columbus, with conspiracy to commit federal program fraud by accepting and paying bribes, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to the indictment, Harvey-Irvin accepted money from Croom, owner and operator of Croom Management Services, in exchange for awarding contracts for consulting work. The community action agency paid Croom approximately $649,047 during and Croom, in turn, paid Harvey-Irvin $91,961.49 in kickbacks for the awarding of those contracts, according to the indictment against them.

The indictment also accuses Croom and Harvey-Irvin of conspiring to launder the kickbacks with Croom making cash deposits into a bank account owned by Harvey-Irvin.

The maximum statutory penalties for the offenses charged are: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for conspiracy, ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for accepting and paying bribes, and 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine per count for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor investigated these cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Gilbert will prosecute the cases.

Editor's Picks