Moss Point Mayor Mario King, wife indicted on wire fraud charges
MOSS POINT, Miss. (WTOK) - Moss Point Mayor Mario King, 33, and his wife, Natasha R. King, 32, appeared Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker on over a dozen wire fraud charges.
The fraud charges are related to the Mayor’s Gala held in 2019, according to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White, and Special Agent in Charge Michelle A. Sutphin of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi.
The indictment alleges that Mario King and Natasha R. King began soliciting funds in late 2018 for a gala to be held Mar. 23, 2019, in Moss Point.
The written solicitation said 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.”
According to the indictment, on Mar. 4, 2019, defendants Mario King and Natasha R. King appeared together on our sister station, WLOX-TV, 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.
The government says it was the understanding of those contributing to the gala, either in the form of tickets purchased or contributions, that the proceeds 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, according to the indictment.
Instead, it is alleged that the Kings used the proceeds for personal purchases, including the down payment on a vehicle, cash withdrawals and the payment of credit card debts involving charges to complete the purchase of a personal pet.
The defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Walker at 10 a.m. Friday for their initial appearance and arraignment. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden.
If 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.
Copyright 2020 WTOK. All rights reserved.