The Mayor of Moss Point has been indicted on federal fraud charges.
According to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Mario King, 33 and his wife, Natasha, are accused of fraudulently obtaining and spending funds from an event billed as the ‘Mayor’s Gala 2019’.
In late 2018, the pair allegedly began soliciting donations for the event with the promise 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.” During an interview with a local news channel, King and his wife specifically stated that the funds would be used to create safe spaces for mental health counseling in the city’s schools.
An investigation conducted by State Auditor Shad White and the FBI found that the couple ended up using the proceeds from the gala 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.
If convicted on the charges, Mario and Natasha King face up to five years on the conspiracy charge and up to twenty years on each of the thirteen wire fraud charges. Each of the fourteen counts carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
King has been sued multiple times during his stint as the Mayor of Moss Point, once by a city Alderman and again by multiple city employees for discrimination. He was elected in 2017.