RELEASE: Watkins ordered to pay restitution, civil penalties

Final Order issued by Secretary of State

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann issued a final order in the matter of Watkins Development, LLC and David Watkins, Individually, after an administrative hearing officer found Watkins to have operated in a manner to “mislead or deceive.” Those actions included untrue statements in the bond offering, misleading and deceptive actions in the use of bond proceeds, and substantial omissions in payment requisitions, all in violation of Miss Code Section 75-71-501, Article 5 Fraud and Liabilities, of the Mississippi Securities Act of 2009.

“The hearing officer in the case recommended restitution in the amount of $587,084, plus legal interest and a civil penalty of $75,000 against Watkins Development and David Watkins. I see no reason to disagree with the recommendation of the hearing officer,” says Secretary Hosemann.

After a two-day hearing in October, Watkins was found to have taken funds designated to renovate the “Belk Building” in the Metrocenter shopping center in Jackson, and instead, used the funds to purchase property in Meridian. The failure to disclose their intentions to use the bond proceeds for any other purpose other than renovating the space at the Metrocenter violates the general fraud statutes of the Mississippi Securities Act.

Watkins Development, LLC and David Watkins are also ordered to pay administrative and investigative costs in the amount of $18,047.39.

Watkins Development, LLC and David Watkins may appeal the decision in the First Judicial District of Hinds County within sixty (60) days of the Final Order.