Jackson, Miss. -- Joe Dale Walker, 61, a former chancery judge from Monticello, and his nephew Chad Teater, 42, of Magee, were each sentenced in federal court today to 5 months in prison followed by 5 months home confinement for federal obstruction of justice, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and FBI Special in Agent in Charge Donald Alway. In addition, the defendants will be ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date.
Beginning in 2010, Walker was the elected Chancellor for the Thirteenth Chancery Court District of Mississippi, covering Covington, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Simpson and Smith Counties. In June 2011, Walker directed the attorney he had appointed for a conservatorship to solicit bids from local contractors for the construction of a home for the ward. Five bids for construction of the home were obtained, including a bid from Walker’s nephew, Chad Teater doing business as C.T. Construction. 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 another Chancellor for the limited purpose of accepting and approving bids for the construction of the Newsome home. After signing an order awarding the contract to Teater, the case was transferred back to Walker.
Prior to August 7, 2013, a grand jury subpoena was served upon a witness to appear before a Federal Grand Jury and to bring any and all documents relating to the Conservatorship. On August 7, 2013, 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. Walker then told the witness that Teater’s original bid needed to be "somewhere else" in response to the Federal Grand Jury subpoena. When interviewed by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on March 25, 2014, Walker denied ever talking with the witness about two bids submitted by Teater and denied ever telling the witness to get rid of the bid. Teater likewise was subpoenaed to the federal grand jury, where he proceeded to lie about the incident, and he subsequently lied to FBI agents.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.