Rolling Fork mayor indicted for home repair fraud again

Eldridge Walker
Eldridge Walker

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The mayor of a small town in the Mississippi Delta has again been indicted on felony charges related to invoices he submitted for home repair work.

A Hinds County grand jury indicted Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge “Butch” Walker on false pretense, conspiracy to commit false pretense, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Attorney General Jim Hood’s office said in a news release Friday. Authorities allege Walker submitted a false invoice for work at a Rolling Fork home with the aim of defrauding the Federal Home Loan Bank, which was granting money for repairs.

The mayor of the 2,100-person town was indicted in 2014 in Sharkey County on similar charges that were later dismissed. It’s unclear why he was indicted in Hinds County this time. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Walker was booked into jail in Hinds County on Tuesday and released Thursday, jail records show. The amount of bail he posted wasn’t immediately available Friday.

Walker’s wife said by phone Friday that her husband declined to comment. Walker’s lawyer, Bennie Richard of Greenville, didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.

Marie Myles told The Associated Press in 2014 that Walker had done some work on the outside of her home in Rolling Fork in 2012, but she did not know details about the invoices. The 2014 indictment also charged Walker with fraudulent work on a second property in 2012, both times faxing fraudulent invoices of more than $500.

Walker’s main business is a funeral home in Rolling Fork, about 40 miles north of Vicksburg. He was first elected mayor in 2005, defeated in 2009, then re-elected in 2013.

It’s not the only accusation of fraud involving the Federal Home Loan Bank in Mississippi. Two Brandon women, Kayla Paul Lindsey and Marlene Solomon Williams were indicted in federal court in April on conspiracy and 16 counts of fraud, claiming the women took $187,000 in kickbacks from home repairs using the bank’s grants. The two women are accused of requiring contractors to inflate invoices and give them the extra money, on top of the administrative fees their nonprofit group legally collected.

Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy in September and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10. She faces up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Lindsey has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial on or after Dec. 7. She faces up to 485 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors also demand that the women forfeit the kickbacks.

Walker is not listed among the contractors alleged to have kicked back money to Lindsey and Williams.

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