• 70°

Joe Dale Walker pleads guilty

Joe Dale Walker, 61, of Monticello, Mississippi, pled guilty Tuesday, Oct. 7, in U.S. District Court to a federal charge of obstruction of justice.

Walker was charged with instructing a federal grand jury witness to destroy documents and then lying to FBI agents in relation to the Victoria Newsome case that was filed in Simpson County in 2013.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Judge Walker directed the attorney he had appointed for a conservatorship to solicit bids from local contractors for the construction of a home for Newsome.

Five bids for construction of the home were obtained, including a bid from Judge Walker’s nephew, Chad Teater of C.T. Construction.

Judge Walker reviewed the bids in his chambers and, upon discovering that Teater’s bid was much lower than the other bids, Walker instructed Teater to raise his bid.

Teater subsequently submitted another bid which was $23,500 more than his original bid but still lower than the other bids.

Due to his nephew’s involvement as a bidder for the Newsome house, Walker transferred the case to Judge David Shoemake, for the limited purpose of accepting and approving bids for the construction of the Newsome home.

After Shoemake signed an order awarding the contract to Teater, the case was transferred back to Walker.

A grand jury subpoena was served later upon a witness to appear before a Federal Grand Jury and to bring any and all documents relating to the Conservatorship.

Walker met with the witness and was informed of the Federal Grand Jury subpoena.

During this meeting, Walker and the witness discussed the original bid from Teater, the fact that it was lower than the other bids, and that Walker had instructed the witness to tell Teater to raise his bid.

Walker also asked the witness about the original bid and any existing copies.

When interviewed by the FBI, Walker denied ever talking with the witness about the two bids submitted by Teater and denied ever telling the witness that Teater’s original bid needed to be “somewhere else” in response to the Federal Grand Jury subpoena.

Teater pled guilty to obstruction of justice for lying to a federal grand jury.

Walker and Teater will be sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge David C. Bramlette III on January 8, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. in Jackson, Mississippi.

Walker faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Judge  Walker was the  Chancellor for the Thirteenth Chancery Court District of Mississippi, covering Covington, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Simpson and Smith Counties.