ByrdA Mississippi Sheriff has been indicted on 31 counts including pushing an arrest of an innocent man in a murder case despite another officer’s objection and snooping around on employees at a restaurant because they wouldn’t accept his check.  The indictment against Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd charges him with using his office to retaliate against others he considered political or personal enemies, including the police chief of Ocean Springs (Jackson County).  The charges also include fraud, extortion, embezzlement, witness tampering, and perjury.

In one incident, Byrd is accused of pressuring a detective to sign a criminal affidavit to seek an arrest warrant for a man in a murder investigation in 2007.  The detective believed the man didn’t commit the crime.  Byrd was running for re-election at the time and wanted to be able to say there were no unsolved murders in the coastal Mississippi County.

– The extortion charge stems from an incident in which Byrd allegedly pressured a female deputy to engage in sexual acts with him or she would get a bad recommendation when she left his department.

– Another charge stems from Byrd’s alleged order of surveillance on Ocean Springs Police Chief Keith Davis in retaliation for Davis “embarrassing” Byrd by disclosing a 2012 shooting that involved narcotics agents.  The shooting involved two agents, with one accused of shooting toward the feet of the other at the headquarters.   Other alleged incidents are:

– Byrd is also charged with hindering prosecution by ordering that evidence be concealed in a case.

– Another charge said that Byrd sent narcotics agents to perform surveillance on employees at a Mexican restaurant because the place had refused to accept his check.

– He’s also accused of sending officers to watch a man who objected to the location of a hotel.

– He is charged with using his office to refuse to pay for repairs on his lawn mower.

– Some of the counts relate to testimony in the case of former Ocean Springs Alderman James Hagan, who was charged with child exploitation.  The district attorney’s office declined to prosecute him.

– Fraud charges relate to the money it cost agents to conduct what the grand jury considered illegitimate surveillance operations.

– The embezzlement charges stem from Byrd allegedly sending his employees to solicit money for events like bass tournaments and paying them with department funds.

Byrd is in his fourth term as sheriff.  The Mississippi Supreme Court appointed Judge William F. Coleman, a retired Hinds County Circuit Judge, to preside over the case.


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