The Democrat mayor of Moss Point, Mississippi, and his wife were indicted on over a dozen wire fraud charges Friday.
“The indictment alleges that Mario King and Natasha R. King began soliciting funds in late 2018 for a Gala to be held on March 23, 2019, in Moss Point,” according to WLOX.
The report continued:
According to the indictment, on March 4, 2019, defendants Mario King and Natasha R. King appeared together on WLOX television and described the event, saying that funds from the Gala would 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.
The Kings used some of the funds to pay for the event, but the remaining money reportedly did not go to the school district.
“Instead, a multi-agency federal and state investigation found the Kings used proceeds for a down payment on a vehicle, cash withdrawals and payment of credit card debts involving charges to buy a pet,” according to the Sun Herald.
The couple surrendered Friday and later appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker, the article noted.
On its website, the city said its mission was to build “a sustainable Moss Point through progressive leadership, fiscal transparency, and public safety while enhancing quality of life through equity, economic growth, and diversity.”
King was elected mayor in June 2017 after he defeated incumbent Republican Billy Broomfield with 61 percent of the vote, according to the Sun Herald.
During his tenure as mayor, King has been arrested on a domestic violence charge that was ultimately dropped, and sued numerous times. Moss Point Alderman Ennit Morris filed suit against the mayor in June 2019, alleging he had been the victim of the mayor’s harassment and threats. Morris claimed the mayor tried to have him “forcibly” arrested after Morris questioned King’s spending.
If the couple is convicted, they face up to “five years on the conspiracy charge and up to 20 years on each of the 13 wire fraud charges. Each of the fourteen counts carries a maximum fine of $250,000,” the WLOX report noted.