MOSS POINT, Miss. (WJTV) – The former mayor of Moss Point and his wife were sentenced on Thursday, July 22 for conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to the Mayor’s Gala held in 2019
According to the Sun Herald, Judge Sul Ozerden sentenced Mario King to serve two years and six months in prison for fraud. In addition to prison time, the judge fined King $8,000 and ordered him and his wife, Natasha, to pay $6,937 in restitution.
The judge sentenced Natasha King to a three-year term of probation with six months of home confinement.
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, the couple 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.
According to prosecutors, 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.
State Auditor Shad White released the following statement after the sentencing:
The King case came to our office when a whistleblower approached me many months ago. We then began working closely across state and federal entities to move the case forward. It’s good to see the case come to a conclusion today. This should be a lesson to every politician: you cannot lie and defraud the public of money.State Auditor Shad White