Jackson, Miss. – The former Mayor of Moss Point, Mississippi, and his wife were sentenced today for conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to the Mayor’s Gala held in 2019, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White, and Special Agent in Charge Michelle A. Sutphin of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi.
Mario King was sentenced to 30 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $6,937.98 in restitution and an $8,000 fine.
Natasha R. King was sentenced to a three-year term of probation with six months of home confinement. She was also ordered to pay $6,937.98 in restitution and a $5,500 fine.
According to court documents, former Mayor Mario King, 33, and his wife Natasha R. King, 32, began soliciting funds in late 2018 for a Gala to be held on March 23, 2019, in Moss Point. The written solicitation stated that the “gala honors and supports organizations that are making a difference for the mental health community. Proceeds support the efforts of mental health in the City of Moss Point with a focus on the Moss Point School District, converting spaces into a therapeutic and innovative learning environment.”
On March 4, 2019, Mario King and Natasha R. King appeared together on WLOX television and described the event, stating that funds from the Gala were to be used to create safe spaces for mental health counseling in the Moss Point School District.
It was the understanding of those contributing to the Gala, either in the form of tickets purchased or contributions, that the proceeds from the Gala would go to the Moss Point School District. Some of the funds were used to pay for the cost of the Gala, but the remaining proceeds did not go to the Moss Point School District. Instead, the defendants used the proceeds for personal purchases, including the down payment on the purchase of a vehicle, cash withdrawals and the payment of credit card debts involving charges to complete the purchase of a personal pet.
The Kings pled guilty on February 24, 2021.
The case was investigated by the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie prosecuted the case.