The Secretary of State's office has filed a notice to fine Jackson developer David Watkins of Watkins Development, LLC, surrounding allegations of misusing bond money.
The action is based on a compliant and subsequent investigation. A hearing was held Tuesday. The Secretary of State charges the developer, violated security law by misappropriating over $587,000 of bond money.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's Notice of Hearing documents show that money was to be used for the sole purpose of the Retro Metro project at Metrocenter mall. Retro Metro's attorney, Keith Parsons, says Watkins co-mingled the bond proceeds with his own company, then used it to buy property in Meridian.
The Secretary of State's notice says he failed to disclose this. The bond money was to renovate the Belk building at Metrocenter in order to lease it to the City of Jackson. The loan is now in default according to Retro Metro's attorney.
"I did not know or suspect that sort of co-mingling and misappropriation of funds would have happened," said Parsons, under questioning by Watkins' attorney, Brad Pigott. "Had I known that, we could have told people that there wouldn't be a problem, the deal would have died."
The developer faces a fine of $25,000 for each violation. Watkins Development could be ordered to pay all the money back to Retro Metro with interest, and possibly surrender all profits made by misuse of the proceeds of the bonds.
David Watkins was expected to present his side of the case Tuesday afternoon. The hearing officer will report his findings to the Secretary of State.