Melton: Police Taking Over Court Services; No Crime Stats to Media | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Melton: Police Taking Over Court Services; No Crime Stats to Media

UPDATE March 16, 2006: This is now a full transcript of the mayor's press conference, addressing many issues—from crime stats to his pursuit of the Wood Street Players.

BREAKING: Mayor Frank Melton called a press conference this afternoon to announce that, due to corruption in the municipal court system being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's Office, that he is placing the municipal court system under Police Chief Shirlene Anderson. He told media that the Wood Street Gang, and especially Vidal Sullivan, is behind the court corruption. During the press conference, he also said that he will not release any crime statistics to the media, that crime information will only be available through government-controlled media outlets such as public access television and the city's Web site. Following is a transcript of the press conference in its entirety:

[verbatim] I called you together to thank the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Mississippi and the FBI for helping the city of Jackson clean up corruption that is apparently here and systemic. As all of you are aware, in the last 72 hours we've had some significant developments. We've had two people from court services plead guilty to corruption. That's been a long time coming. It's been unfair to law enforcement and the police department for them not to be able to call court services to access information when they need it. We think we have a grip on that now. I'm very proud of Mr. Lampton's work on this and the FBI. As a result of this I'm probably going to transfer court services to the police department in very short order and they will come under the direction of the police chief. I think they're under administration now and we're going to transfer them over to the police department.

The other significant thing is the guilty plea entered by Terrell Donelson on Wednesday. He's a member of the Wood Street players and that guilty plea is very significant at the federal level and I want to thank the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for that because that gets us very deep into what has been going on with the Wood Street players. The Wood Street players have been tied into court services for a number of years. When my policemen call up to access certain records and no records are found but we can go to a different system and find 51 charges, many of them felonious, which would suggest that we've had a very serious problem going on for some time.

There is one more person of interest that we are looking at for court services, but we plan to deal with that. Outside of those two issues, there's a young man on the street named Mr. Thompson. I don't want to use his first name. He's distributing narcotics in Jackson and we're getting ready to focus on him and get him off the street. He operates in the Bailey Avenue area, and we're going to …. deal with that.

Finally, we had a homicide a couple of nights ago, as you all are very aware. I'm very disturbed about that. This was, I think, a 30-year-old young man who'se life was taken and I would like to very strongly suggest that the violator turn himself in to homicide immediately, and if he chooses not to do that I'll initiate the SWAT unit to go out and find him.

And that's what we have today.

Reporter: What's the name of the person you're looking for?

He knows who he is. That's what's important.

Reporter: Is there a link between court services and the Wood Street Gang?

I'm not suggesting a link. I'm telling you there's a link. After I was elected I told the public that we had corruption at municipal court services and now we're finding out that that indeed is the case.

Reporter: Can you elaborate on the link ?What's the relationship between the gang and the municipal court?

The relationship was through a bail bondsman.

Reporter: What was done?

The bondsman would bond them out using an alias, knowing very well that that was not their legal name.

Reporter: Will he be brought up on charges?

No ma'am, I don't think so. He's deceased.

Reporter: Jimmy Jam?

Yes, ma'am.

Reporter: How long has this been going on?

We affected an arrest on Jimmy Jam three years ago, and someone on court services simultaneously with that. After leaving MBN, the FBI picked the case up and did a super job, and dug deeper and found out it was a little more systemic than we thought.

Reporter: How did they get away with it for so long?

The most important thing is this answers the question to the public. How can the policemen arrest someone on a very serious crime and then turn up and see the man few hours later back on the street. This is the answer to that question and Jacksonians have wanted this question answered for years. This is, by no means over, but it's all coming together now.

Reporter: Are you saying there are people who have committed crimes who are out on the street today?

Yes, and they have for a number of years. Thanks again for the help of the FBI, and it is by no means over. It is all coming together right now, but this has been a very significant and stressful week in terms of fighting crime her in the capital citty.

Reporter: So you want to shift control of court services to the police department?

Well, many years ago, court services was under the police department and at this point, because of what has happened in the past, my comfort level is a lot greater if they're reporting in to the Jackson Police Department, under the direction of the police chief. They're in the administrative process of government and I'd like them to be in the law enforcement place of government.

Reporter: You talk a lot about Sullivan and his arrest record and how that has not been reflected. Does the corruption connect with Sullivan?

Yes ma'am, I know it does. If you call court services to access that particular record and that record is not found and you go to another source and find 51 interdictions, that is very inappropriate and that has been addressed with the pleading of those two individuals.

Reporter: Can crime in Jackson be attributed to these two women?

Without question. There have been other cases where fictitious names have been used. The dynamics of that is they go out and commit a crime and get right back on the street and that suggests to them that they can go and commit crimes and do the same thing and they're exactly right because that's exactly what they did 51 ties without detainment. There are other cases where fictitious names have been used. It's just not court services so we're not stopping here. But I need to get everyone to understand that when I was elected the big issue was crime and we're going to deal with the issue of crime with the help of the sheriffs department, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney, the DEA, the ATF, the state of Mississippi, whatever resources we have we're going to all come together and deal with this issue, but I was elected to deal with this issue.

Now the backside of this is the fact that economic development—we're going to announce $400 million worth of investment in this city within the next 10 days. When we get back together we're going to be talking about $400 million worth of investment. I just left Hattiesburg on a $50 million deal. When I was in the Bahamas we did a $58 million transaction for an arts and entertainment center here in the capital city. People want to invest in us now because we're taking a very aggressive approach in dealing with crime, and right after crime comes education, and our school system is doing a tremendous job. George Elementary is doing great. It's a Level 5 school. If they can do it, we can do it all over the city. If we want people to invest in the capital city we have to assure themthatt we're handling this crime issue in a very aggressive way.

I disclose to each of you that my approach is totally different. My approach is totally different. People want crime solved now I find myself in the position where they want to tell me how to do it, and the only thing I can tell you is that we're going to stay well within the law. We're not going to violate anybody's civil rights. We're not going to violate any constitutional rights, but most importantly, we're not sweeping anything under the rug. If it happens we're going to deal with it at whatever level it occurs

Reporter: Mr. Melton, when are you going to start releasing crime stats regularly to the public?

We're going to release them through our own informational system, our own television station to do that, our own publication to do that, and it will be on the internet for the people. It will be done in house, with no manipulation.

Reporter: So you will not be providing it to other media outlets?

I think you can hit a computer button and pull up a similar report.

Reporter: But are you releasing it to other media?

No ma'am. We're releasing it through the internet. It'll be available to everybody. However, at any point in time, because we're about to do the FBI report right now, if someone wanted a hard copy, you'll always be welcome to it. That's not an issue. The issue is that we have all these resources and we're not using our own resources. We have the local access channel and our own internet, and we're going to use that to deseminate information to the public, but be as hard nosed as you've been about that because that speaks right to the issue. The other thing is we're contracting with the SafeCity initiative right here in the city and they're going to manage the information.

Reporter: Are you still on the board of that?

No ma'am, and I have not been on that board for some years. When I went to MBN…

Reporter: You're on the letterhead last year.

Well, I've got some old letterhead too.

Reporter: Going back to Jimmy Jam, do you feel that his murder is connected to this whole thing?

I'm not educated on the facts surrounding his homicide. I remember it well because we affected an arrest of him and he turned himself in to the Hinds County Sheriff's Department but at the end of the day I left MBN and that was not pursued but he was killed here in the city and I just don't know the facts about that.

Reporter: Why is Donelson's guilty plea so significant?

Because we're dealing with the toughest organized group of drug distributers we have in Jackson. It is my belief, and I was corrected by the District Attorney when we were in Richmond, Va, on our economic development trip, it is my belief that they have caused the death of eight people in the city of Jackson. Mrs. Peterson corrected me in Richmond and said it was 10 people and we went at them two ways. At MBN we did the murder charges, whish are state charges. Simultaneously, the federal government did the drug charges. Mr. Donelson's records were sealed in federal court and they were only unsealed after the federal judge gave him his sentence and it is significant. This is the brother of aka. Batman, and I think that in the next couple of weeks you'll see some additional guilty pleas come out of this case.

Reporter: The person of interest, do they work for the city?

The person of interest does work for the city.

Reporter: in court services?

No ma'am.

Reporter: When will we see the $58 million investment?

It doesn't have anything to do with the current project we have going on right now. This is an add on of something new and different, and what we're looking at developing an arts and entertainment center for people from Mississippi like Leontene (check spelling) Price, Morgan Freeman, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, James Earl Jones, the young country—Faith Hill, I believe. People who have made significant contributions to entertainment around the world and I am using my connections at BMI to secure this. I think it will be just wonderful. The meeting I had today, we're going to present to you next week, we're going to propose to you an new indoor sports arena for the city of Jackson where we're going to have indoor football, soccer, tennis, try to have the state basketball championship. This is going to be a domed stadium right here in the city of Jackson and it is going to be neat, and we'll have a formal announcement about that next week.

Reporter: Who are the investors from BMI?

You have a number of investors from Mississippi and all over the state. We'll have federal funds and some state funds involved in this and the city will back up and do its part in this, and this is really important to the entertainment district. Also, next week I will be meeting with a group to look at a multi-screen theatre facility in the capital city where parents and families can go to have a multi-screen theatre.

The Town Creek Apartments, as you all know, are coming down. We have nine families left at Maple Street apartments. The houses on Monument Street, which look like third world country houses are gone. We're rebuilding an entire block on Elm Street, off Bailey Avenue and this is happening at the same time. I had an investor in earlier this week who's going to do Town Creek. We have an investor coming in next week who's going to help us out in south Jackson. My strategy is putting an investor and a developer in each of our wards, all seven wards and simultaneously rebuilding the city instead of scatter shooting we're going to do it all at the same time. We will be using private investment fund.

Reporter: Are you saying that Vidal Sullivan and other members paid off some people at municipal court services?

I'm not calling any specific names. I'm saying the Wood Street Players were deeply entrenched in a corrupt manner in our court services and it has been going on for a long time. When this thing unfolds and I think you'll find Wood Street on trial next month, you're going to see how many times each of them has been arrested and, from a media perspective, although I come from your world, the thing that fascinates me is that nobody has really dug into 51 times and nothing happens. I showed you all privately the arrest sheet, and that's very worrisome. How many more people do we have out here creating problems?

Reporter: How many do we know about?

Quite a few. I don't want to prejudice any cases but maybe at some other point in time I can tell you exactly how the system worked and what they were doing. Based on your reports, we know in excess of $5,000 in one case, $2,000 in another case, and there's a another person of interest who collected over $2,000.

Reporter: How much deeper are we going?

Until we get to the bottom of it. We've got a crime problem in Jackson, but it's just not on the street corner. It's difficult to deal with the kid on Bailey and Ash when we've got corruption right down here in our own court services building.

Reporter: Would you name the FBI agents involved in the investigation?

Because they're involved in some continuing investigations I don't have their permission to expose them, but I can tell you that the leader in this is the U.S. Attorney and he has done a superb job.

Reporter: Why is this just now coming out?

People in Jackson have known this has been going on for some time, and I know I get heavily criticized by you guys because I know the approach that I take is different, but right now my No. 1 priority is to solve the crime issue, and the only assurance that I will give you is that I will stay within the law, not violate anybody's Civil rights or constitutional rights but at the end of the day we're going to get the result we need to make this city grow.

I've done this for 20 years, and I've been very successful at it, and I switch over and I become the mayor and what I can't change is my behavior and my technique. The public elected me to participate along with others to resolve crime and bring it to a conclusion.

Reporter: How long is that corruption in court services going on?

I can tell you that I made the first arrest three years ago. The FBI began in investigation and substantiated the allegations and got the indictment and they got the guilty plea. Lampton is absolutely correct when he suggests that one if not both of these ladies will cooperate with the federal government.

Reporter: But this sounds like its been going on for much longer than three years ago.

Yes, and we've have kids that have been truant for 20 years. Nobody cared about them being in school, but state law requires they go to class every day. Secondly, the strip club problem has been going on for years. It's been in violation of city, state and federal law and nobody's cared.

Reporter: My understanding is that these two women have pled guilty on two different charges but it sounds like you feel there are more cases.

I know they have, and we're continuing to deal with it. I will be criticized. That's fine. I'm a big boy. I can handle that, but at the end of the day we're going to deliver the results to the taxpayers of Jackson. I'm doing what I was hired to do. When I make mistakes I will admit it to you, but I will sit right here and tell you dead to your face that Vidal Sullivan was not a mistake. Isn't it interesting that we have so many people pleading guilty all of the sudden?

Reporter: So you're saying his arrest is--

No, sir. I'm just saying Vidal Sullivan was not a mistake and isn't it ironic that all of the sudden we have people going before a federal juge and pleading guilty?

Reporter: How's that ironic?

The timing of it's ironic.

Reporter: Do you feel it's because they're fearful of a manhunt like the kind you sent after Mr. Sullivan?

I know how they think. I know what they're concerned about and they're absolutely correct. They're doing the right thing by telling the judge the truth, and, Donna, at the end of the day look how much money that saves us for a trial. They've pled guilty three times in the last 72 hours and that's very significant and I'm talking about the same lady who walked out of municipal court a few months ago and said she hasn't done anything wrong.

Reporter: What are we doing now? We have these cases where we've had witnesses who have admitted things and then when it comes to trial they recuse. How do you keep that from happening?

I'm not going to get into that because I want you all to understand. We had the Grayhead association on trial a few weeks ago. One of the defendants in that case came to see me, and it was one of the defendants I had turned in when I was going through all of this with the Grayhead gang. I did four of the five of them. I was leading with this young man to go before the judge and simply tell the truth. It started at 12:09 a.m. in the morning and lasted until 4:17. I had his attorney on the speakerphone. All I ask him to do is go tell the truth and end this thing and don't bother with the jury. Just take your punishment. This young man looked at me once and said, Frank, the case is already over. I told him, the jury hasn't heard closing arguments. The jury hasn't done their deliberation. How can you take that risk, because a Hinds County jury can be very tough. He looked at me and said this was a done deal, and the very next day, the key witness pleads the fifth. He knew what he was talking about, and that has bothered me so much.

Then on the hilt of that, we get into another sensitive situation where the key witness refused to testify. We don't want that to happen with the Wood Street players. If we don't get them on the state level we'll get them on the federal level and Batman isn't going anywhere.

I know he's been bragging about getting out next month. Folks, that's not going to happen.

Reporter: Is that why you have Vidal Sullivan in protective custody?

I'm not going to comment on that.

Reporter: Is he in custody?

I'm not going to comment on that.

Carolyn Redd: Any more questions? Anything else?

Reporter: Is (Vidal) playing a role in this?

I'm not going to comment on that.

Thanks. Everybody have a great weekend. Great safe weekend. Thank you for coming.

Previous Comments

ID
121457
Comment

It's remarkable, isn't it, that Mr. Melton is naming the suspects in a case being investigated by the feds?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-10T18:07:30-06:00
ID
121458
Comment

He's back!!! Fresh off from vacation and more full of bull than ever. Isn't this the man that stated in his inagural speech that he wanted to partner with the sheriff department to fight crime? Ain't happening. He's is not going toshare the spotlight with anyone. More importantly I don't believe that sheriff McMillan would be a part of all of this bull#$^. I wonder what the feds are really thinking about Melton?

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-10T18:11:13-06:00
ID
121459
Comment

The part about refusing to give crime statistics to any media outlets, but only release them through channels they control is remarkable. Simply remarkable. Did I say it was remarkable? He does seem eager to be in front of his municipal court corruption investigation -- and to tell us all that yet something else is connected to the "Wood Street Gang." I just hope he is not hurting the investigation in some way, or the chances that they will be convicted if they are, in fact, connected to the court corruption. And after the madness that just happened with Melton, Priester, Anderson and Sullivan, are we all to be *relieved* that the police chief is now in charge of court services? It just gets weirder, doesn't it?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-10T18:15:25-06:00
ID
121460
Comment

Frank also referred to the police as "my officers". Isn't this a blantant slap in Shirleen's face? The mayor also said that they are about to announce 400 million in investments in this city. Anyone taking bets on the validity of this? He is so obsessed with Wood street until he has completely forgotten about the rest of the city. What about the carjackings, house burgularies, kids being picked up at bus stops, police officers associations with runaways, etc?

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-10T18:19:50-06:00
ID
121461
Comment

Here we go again putting the SWAT team into action for someone that will probable meet Frank out at McDonald's or somewhere for a bite to eat before he turns himself in again. Why not just roun up the entire bunch and make an announcement when he is finished? We are just tired of this nickel and dime routine of getting them one-by-one.

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-10T18:24:48-06:00
ID
121462
Comment

Well, it does give him a way to talk a lot about his crimefighting -- even if the young men he "brings in" aren't, so far, ending up in prison very often. While he was at MBN, the Wood Street Gang was his biggest obsession say people who worked with him there, so little has changed, it seems.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-10T18:26:52-06:00
ID
121463
Comment

Actually, some of this doesn't come as a shock to me, as I was told about the Jimmy Jam connections around the time of his murder. Nor am I surprised by the payoffs of court officers as this is a pretty common m.o. with drug dealers to gain protection from the system. I'm still a bit concerned that Melton may have said more than he should have by going public at this point, I'm sure he is trying to deflect criticism about the bizarre turn of events involving Sullivan the last couple of weeks. As Ben said a week ago, I'm still waiting to see how this one is going to play out before I get too worked up about it.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-03-10T18:27:50-06:00
ID
121464
Comment

On the surface this all sounds real good! I hope he succeeds with some of these developments. However, we can only hope he learns from all the recent criticism and missteps as we go forward. The "means" are very important in "justifying the end!"

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-03-10T18:29:54-06:00
ID
121465
Comment

"People want to invest in us now because we’re taking a very aggressive approach in dealing with crime, and right after crime comes education". What type of investor would sink this much money into a city that will not release crime stats to the media. It's remarkable that he never has any answers when you ask questions, but give him a few days and he lays out a magnificent plan. We're still waiting for Farish street, the King Edward, jobs for our youth. He asked a question recently "do you feel safe in your home"? No not yet!

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-10T18:36:46-06:00
ID
121466
Comment

I am always worried about the process. Over the months, Mr. Melton has said many things that I would like to see happen, and certainly if all the things he says about the Wood Street Gang are true, they need to be punished. But my concern, again, is how he plans to do these things -- and whether his methods are part of the problem, and why they're not going to prison in the first place. I remember the Guardian Angels in NYC in the late '80s and how they were constantly getting in the police's way. Some people in the community loved them, but they made the police's job very difficult. In this case, I truly hope the U.S. attorney knew what Mr. Melton planned to say in his press conference. And why wasn't Mr. Melton standing there with members of all the other agencies he says he works with, including the U.S. attorney, when he had this press conference to tell us who is paying off the court clerks? I'm worried that his quick trigger finger (and desire to deflect his other recent weird actions) is disrupting the investigation. I guess we'll see soon enough.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-10T18:57:28-06:00
ID
121467
Comment

Oh, and the whole not releasing crime stats to the media is patently absurd. This administration makes the last one look like the most open one ever -- and I know from experience that they're weren't perfect on open records.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-10T18:58:21-06:00
ID
121468
Comment

Just when you think you've heard it all.....

Author
Kacy
Date
2006-03-10T19:19:15-06:00
ID
121469
Comment

You know, I feel pretty stupid taking Melton at his word after all he's done. But assuming there is corruption in Court Services, and assuming it can be proved that the bail bondsman did what he claimed (and there would be a paper trail clearly indicating yes or no, for obvious reasons), this might be the first really good thing he does in his administration. I emphasize the word "might," because, here again, I remember saying a lot of optimisticc "mights" about Melton a year ago and wound up looking like a fool. I'm not sure he understood the question about crime statistics. If you release the statistics over the Internet, in hard copy upon request, and through public access television, then the media has them--they're government documents and therefore in the public domain, and can be reprinted by whoever wants to reprint them. (Witness the, what, twelve publishers who printed the Starr Report.) So I'm not sure what he's saying on that front. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-03-10T20:04:17-06:00
ID
121470
Comment

Melton has dug a hole for himself that will take the remainder of his term to come out of. He has made so many promises in his few months in office until it is almost impossible to keep up with them. If you make twenty comittments and keep only five, you're still considered a liar. I think that the best thing for him to do, is to gracefully fade back away from the spotlight for a while or at least until he can come forth and show something positive that he has DONE, not planning to do. In his position as mayor of the capitol city all eyes are on him. His high profile character has made his job even harder to fulfill. Even if he starts to turn things around now, there is a multitude of people that saw his dark side. They might not stick around to see him correct his mistakes.

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-10T21:37:43-06:00
ID
121471
Comment

I'm not sure he understood the question about crime statistics. If you release the statistics over the Internet, in hard copy upon request, and through public access television, then the media has them Actually, the point you're making is what shows how bizarre his insistence is that he will NOT give crime stats directly to the media. The media will get them anyway, even if he tries to filter them through government-owned media. And stats could be faked whether they're given directly to the media or passed through a city media outlet. When we the media get them, either way, we are going to analyze, process, factcheck and write about them as best we can, regardless. So, why the ludicrous contempt for giving crime statistics to the media -- especially when that's required by law!?! He says elsewhere here that he doesn't plan to break any laws. He's breaking the law everytime his administration withholds public information from the media or a member of the public. And the bigger question here: Just how much is this new media empire going to COST the city of Jackson, which is already facing a budget crisis? Marcus Ward can only wear so many hats, you know.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-10T23:06:15-06:00
ID
121472
Comment

OK, after some preliminary research, this isn't adding up. Mr. Melton is saying flat-out that these courts investigated by the feds destroyed records that helped keep Wood Street guys out of jail. However, in-the-know folks I've talked to say (a) that these women destroyed misdemeanor records (which wouldn't have kept them out of jail) and (b) had they been felony files, the files are backed up and filed elsewhere, including with police, so they would be cross-referenced. Thus, the ones the clerks had access to wouldn't have kept people charged with felonies out of jail. I'm also hearing from sources that it is highly unlikely that these records had anything to do with Wood Street guys. But we will get back to everyone has we learn more and sort this bizarre new chapter out. (Perhaps the city's new media empire should include a soap opera channel?) BTW, WLBT reported this tonight: Wednesday, Regina Joy Brown and Cynthia Annette Simmons pled guilty to accepting payoffs to destroy criminal records. Melton says Terrell Donelson, who pled guilty to cocaine possession, is also involved in the corruption of court records. Donnelson is the brother of reputed drug kingpin Albert "batman" Donelson. Melton says the destruction of documents involves arrests of the Donelson brothers, Vidal Sullivan and other members of the Wood Street gang. The mayor is placing Court Services under the direction of the police department to help keep offenders behind bars.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-10T23:27:29-06:00
ID
121473
Comment

(Speaking of Marcus Ward, we were very pleased to see him represent the city at the Friendship Ball last weekend. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-10T23:39:35-06:00
ID
121474
Comment

Saying Municipal Court Services is going to be under Shirlene Anderson really means it's going to be under Frank. I suspect there's a search going on to find a way to get rid of that pesky city council too.

Author
JLYerg
Date
2006-03-11T01:07:50-06:00
ID
121475
Comment

Don't forget the Civil Service. When he first took office he requested that all of the CS board turn in their resignations. From my understanding he has also pursued the idea of doing away with the CS altogether. He prefers "unions" although he was accused of union-busting earlier in his career. He would have to go through an act of congress (literally) to get rid of CS though. The next best alternative he has is when their term expires, the CS board is appointed by the mayor.

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-11T03:11:24-06:00
ID
121476
Comment

This is what I call a hostile takeover!

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-11T08:16:01-06:00
ID
121477
Comment

Yeah. Just call him Frank Hussein, Saddam little brother.

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-11T08:56:55-06:00
ID
121478
Comment

The Bahamas trip was mentioned earlier in the original post. Check this quote from the Ledge: "The other is the possibility of hiring several Bahamians to work in Jackson's service industry." - Melton Wait... What the fuck? He's going to the Bahamas to get waiters, janitors, bartenders, shoe shiners, etc? Why not hire Jacksonians? Why not train Jacksonians? Am I the only one that puked a little in their mouth reading that? "One is the possibility of a $58 million investment in the Farish Street Entertainment District, specifically to create a museum honoring famous Mississippians like Oprah Winfrey, B.B. King and Morgan Freeman" - Melton Is this going to be a famous Black Mississippi history museum or a museum for all famous Mississippians? No mention of Eudora Welty, Faulkner, Jim Henson, Brett Farve, and the others that make up the list of famous white Mississippians. I'm just curious because he only named Black Mississippians and this will be in a historically black neighborhood and a Black landmark. Of course, this concept goes back to our previous conversation about a "black museum" vs a "Mississippi museum". "The city paid $1,842 for three round-trip plane tickets, said Administration Department Director Peyton Prospere. That was the only cost the city incurred, he said." But Melton paid for the rooms and will pay for the flights... We've been told. Money quote: "How do you say there's a man out there who is so dangerous that he shouldn't be on the streets and then jump up and go to the Bahamas?" Robinson said. To be honest, I'm all about his trip if he can actually follow-through and this particular set of investments trumps the ongoing exodus of tax dollars to the 'burbs. Personally, I'd rather him spend a few nights in his own city encouraging businesses to stay and reinvest in the city... No need to travel to the Bahamas, Melton. Just go to Madison, Pearl, Flowood, Brandon, and Clinton. Seriously, there's a lot of business surrounding us you could approach on a tank of gas and without flying body guards all over the place... Oh, and no need for a hotel!

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-11T08:59:34-06:00
ID
121479
Comment

Geez, guys, I haven't posted in any of your Melton threads, because I don't even live close to Jackson . . . however, I have to say what I've been thinking for a while - your mayor is nuts. By the time he gets thru, folks will be begging Johnson to come back.

Author
C.W.
Date
2006-03-11T09:24:35-06:00
ID
121480
Comment

Well stated! This little cowboy cannot see the forest for the trees. I have stated numerous times that he should first utilize the resources that are right here in the Jackson area. Then branch out slowly. What message is he sending to the youth that he claims he loves when he goes galavanting all over the world for industry when it's right here? Mr. fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants is clearly demonstrating that he only needed Jackson for the votes to get him elected. He is quick to say that it shouldn't matter where people live when he hires them, but I disagree. You should first look in your own backyard. The residents here have a passion for their city. I would almost guarantee you that he could not go to Madison, Clinton, Richland, or any other city and get away with overlooking the residents of those cities. Another contrasting point of concern. He has now commissioned the police department to search out any residents in the city that has purchased their tags from out of town. He says that he is cracking down on these people. Frank, WTF? Either you are okay with non-Jacksonians, or you're not. At the same time I welcome anyone from outside Jackson, I am merely saying he has abandoned the city that he was elected to represent. I see this as a contributing factor for people to want to leave here and seek employment elsewhere. Your chances of a job with the city is slowly going away to nothing. Also isn't he the one who sternly resisted the idea that he wasn't partial toward one race, but represented ALL of the people? He said that he represented everyone. But there was no mention of any famous white Mississippians.

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-11T09:25:11-06:00
ID
121481
Comment

I haven't read all the posts; but, I had to comment on this statement from Agnew: "Responding to the threat, Clarion-Ledger Executive Editor Ronnie Agnew said, "I am alarmed that the mayor of the state's largest city is conducting himself in such an unacceptable manner. I also find it interesting that as a former member of the media he continues to challenge the public's right to know." What a punk - and I mean Agnew. NOW that one of his has been face to face to a Melton threat they are taking it seriously! Yet, have him say he doesn't give a crap what WE think, have him threaten council members, citizens, and other reporters at other media outlets and you are MUTE! You guys are petty. It probably is going to take having someone actually "CREAMED" by the mayor before you see the light. So, Agnew, you got the moxie to run an article on his security detail now?!?

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-03-11T10:42:18-06:00
ID
121482
Comment

I'm glad he can afford to pay for their hotel rooms. He seems to keep forgetting about those pesky property taxes! Did his wife meet him in the Bahamas? You got to figure they need a little "alone time" to regroup from their days apart.

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-03-11T10:45:45-06:00
ID
121483
Comment

Also, was the reporter a male or female? It would sure look a lot worst if Melton said he was going to "cream" a female reporter. It takes a small man to threaten a lady with bodily harm.

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-03-11T11:02:43-06:00
ID
121484
Comment

"The other is the possibility of hiring several Bahamians to work in Jackson's service industry." - Melton Oh Lord, Knol, I missed that one. Is he truly saying that he is going elsewhere to fill jobs when there are so many people who need them here!?! Oh. My. God.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-11T11:53:11-06:00
ID
121485
Comment

Of course, we're talking about this story separately now, so maybe we should focus our comments there. Feel free to double-post your comments from above on that thread if y'all want.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-11T11:54:44-06:00
ID
121486
Comment

Does anyone find it remotely odd that Melton's biggest fans and Melton himself have suggested the police department is corrupt and he's now placing a "corrupt" judicial system under their control? Isn't that like getting WorldCom to do Enron's books? Now, I'm not saying there isn't corruption... I'm simply saying that both have been called corrupt. So, how do you justify putting one corrupt system in charge of another corrupt system to end the corruption? Doesn't it really lead to one corrupt system holding all the power of corruption? Just trying to wrap my head around all this BS of late.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-11T12:03:33-06:00
ID
121487
Comment

Help!!! 'Splain this one to little ole stupid me... I thought there were 3 units of government--the legislative, judicial, and executive. Isn't this what we learned in high school? So how can Fearless Leader (Frank the Spiderman Melton) take over municipal COURTS? Call me stupid, call be baffled. Just call me with an explanation. HDMatthias, MD N.B. Also call me and let me know the name of the internet site FL keeps referring to that has all the up-to-date crime statistics from Jackson.

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2006-03-11T16:01:45-06:00
ID
121488
Comment

There isn't a Web site with info, yet, Doc. That's all part of Mr. Melton's future city-owned Media Empire -- presumably built on Farish Street with a recording studio run by Whitney Houston herself in the penthouse.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-11T16:12:20-06:00
ID
121489
Comment

Thanks, Ms. Ladd for your insight. I did go to the official site of the City of Jackson, and was surprised to find the Municipal Courts listed under "administration." Who's their boss, the Mayor, or someone with legal training? Please see my listing under the story of crime statistics on another story from your paper. HDMatthias, MD

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2006-03-11T16:21:36-06:00
ID
121490
Comment

OK, here is an interesting Ledger story from Aug. 28, 2004 about Melton accusing court clerks of falsifying records on behalf of Wood Street Players. (This is from Nexis, so I can't link it or post the whole thing. But I'll get some money grafs in here.) HEADLINE: Case against clerk in record scheme remains in limbo Nine months after being accused of accepting money to delete criminal records, a deputy clerk in the Jackson Municipal Court still hasn't been served with an arrest warrant. On Friday, Brenda Thomas' attorney, Herbert Lee, asked Hinds County Judge Mike Parker to throw out the arrest warrant, saying it was faulty from the start. "Ms. Thomas has not had an initial appearance. She has been left in limbo with this cloud over head. The state has failed to acknowledge it made a mistake," Lee said. Then-Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director Frank Melton announced on Dec. 11, 2003, that Thomas was read her rights and informed of the obstruction of justice and bribery charges against her while at work, Lee said. As instructed, Thomas reported to MBN headquarters the next day, Lee said. Her attorney was with her. On Friday, Lee said the affidavit Melton used to get the warrant was faulty because Melton had no personal knowledge of information cited in the affidavit to substantiate an alleged crime by his client. [...] Martin told Parker the case is still under investigation to determine if the charges will be pursued against Thomas. Melton, called as a witness Friday, testified he gave specific information orally to Hinds County Justice Court Judge Ivory Britton to substantiate the warrant. Melton said he had information from four confidential informants that they were able to get records deleted in the Municipal Court clerk's office. He said the information about criminal records were allegedly being deleted from the court's computer system while the MBN was investigating The Wood Street Players and The Cohea Street Money Boys, according to court records. [...] Melton said MBN tested informants' information to determine if records were destroyed. He said MBN couldn't find criminal information on individuals they knew should have such information. But on cross-examination by Lee, Melton said he never went to Municipal Court Services Administrator Jeannette Banks to ask if records were missing or deleted. Lee said Banks indicated Thomas didn't have the computer access to be able to destroy records. [...]

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-11T20:43:39-06:00
ID
121491
Comment

Then, on Oct. 2, this was thrown out: A Hinds County judge has thrown out an arrest warrant for a Jackson Municipal Court deputy clerk who was accused by former Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director Frank Melton of taking money to erase computer criminal arrest records. Brenda Thomas of Jackson was charged with obstruction of justice in December 2003. She was accused of accepting money from drug gangs to erase their criminal records from the court's computers, but no action had been taken in the case since Melton charged her with the alleged crime.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-11T20:44:32-06:00
ID
121492
Comment

The really interesting part is the whole access-to-criminal-records part. As I said before, sources tell me the women being investigated now by U.S. Attorney were deleting misdemeanor records -- and that all felonies are backed up in various places, so Melton's story about destroying records on Wood Street Players doesn't make sense. Still developing, though ...

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-11T20:46:30-06:00
ID
121493
Comment

You know, I don't usually post much research as I'm doing it, but this stuff is *really* interesting -- and I might as well throw the media a few bones, being that the TV newscasts last night seemed so clueless about how to look at Melton's court-Wood Street announcements. This is from a Dec. 13, 2003, Ledger story. (Melton said yesterday that the whole new chapter of the Wood Street scandal that he couldn't elaborate much on was a continuation of the "Jimmy Jam" scam.) So ... The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS) HEADLINE: MBN charges Jackson bail bondsman with obstruction Jimmie Johnson, owner of Jimmy Jam Bail Bonds, was arrested Friday and charged with obstruction of justice by Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents investigating two alleged Jackson drug gangs. MBN Director Frank Melton said Johnson used his bonding company to help members of the Cohea Street Money Boys and the Wood Street Players bail out of jail by allowing them to use aliases. "Based on confidential informants, it has been determined that during the course of Mr. Johnson's business he has allowed and in some cases encouraged his clients to use false identifications including false names when being placed under arrest," Melton said in an affidavit filed in Hinds County Circuit Court. "He then provides the bail for the violator using a false name. This has been done with Mr. Johnson's full knowledge." [...] Johnson said he turned himself in to MBN officials Friday afternoon, but was allowed to leave. Agents later contacted him and told him to return to his house because he was going to be arrested and jailed. [...] In the affidavit, Melton said informants helped agents learn that Johnson established relationships "with certain members of the municipal court staff who on a paid basis will erase the violators' charges from the record, thus indicating that no arrest had been affected on the violator." Melton said he can track the activity back three years "but it has probably been going on longer than that." Johnson's arrest came one day after MBN agents accused Brenda Thomas, a Jackson Municipal Court deputy clerk, of accepting money from drug gang members to erase their criminal records from the court's computers. Melton said Thomas turned herself in on an obstruction of justice charge at MBN headquarters Friday. [...]

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-11T21:04:44-06:00
ID
121494
Comment

A 12/12/03 AP story about Brenda Thomas' arrest by Melton et al: "Through her association with ... a local bail bondsman she has from time to time accepted money from violators and for that money she has destroyed arrest records and court records from the municipal court," according to MBN documents outlining the allegations against Thomas. The documents said the drug agency learned criminal records were allegedly being deleted from the court's computer system while investigating two Jackson gangs - The Wood Street Players and The Cohea Street Money Boys. "We have very specific instances with specific individuals," Melton said. Melton released few details about cases erased from the system. He said he will make a "complete, full public disclosure as to what has been going on with the judicial system in Hinds County" when the investigation is complete. He said one of the alleged instances involved removing pending drug charges and traffic tickets for about $2,000. Municipal Court Services Administrator Jeannette Banks would not comment. "I don't know anything about what Mr. Melton is doing," Banks said. Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson said she hadn't heard anything about computer records in Municipal Court being deleted. "I would hope you couldn't delete stuff quite that simply," Peterson said. "Most law enforcement systems have layers of protection and duplication. You can find ways to do it, but I don't know how municipal court operates."

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-11T21:08:30-06:00
ID
121495
Comment

BTW, just realized I didn't put the story about Jimmy Jam's getting killed up to complete this cycle for those who don't know: The Clarion-Ledger November 11, 2004 Thursday HEADLINE: Jackson bail bondsman found dead in car A Jackson bail bondsman became the city's 42nd homicide Wednesday night, police said. Jimmie "Jimmy Jam" Johnson of Jimmy Jam Bail Bonds, whose picture has appeared on some billboard advertisements in the city, was found dead in the driver's seat of a 2005 Cadillac Escalade on the corner of Capitol Court and Capitol Way in west Jackson, said police spokesman Robert Graham. [...] In December, Johnson was charged with obstruction of justice after former Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics director Frank Melton said Johnson used his bonding company to help members of the Cohea Street Money Boys and the Wood Street Players bail out of jail by allowing them to use aliases.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-12T01:27:27-06:00
ID
121496
Comment

Hit me this morning that Melton's been going after these people for quite some time with little to no result. Seriously makes me re-question his motives for becoming mayor.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-03-12T08:34:14-06:00
ID
121497
Comment

That's why Frank need to allow the people that are trained for this type of work do their jobs. His methods are not cost effective or time conservative. He is not producing any positive results. He will make a sensational charge against someone and then it will turn out to be something that's not even newsworthy. He has little or no training in these matters. He only attended a law enforcement class before he went to MBN. After that short stint, he went back to being a private citizen. I don't remember seeing him on CSI, Without a Trace, or NCIS. I watch those shows as many people do, but it dosen't make me think that I am ready to catch criminals.

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-12T09:23:33-06:00
ID
121498
Comment

Hit me this morning that Melton's been going after these people for quite some time with little to no result. Seriously makes me re-question his motives for becoming mayor. Knol, it is important to know/remember that, at MBN, Melton focused on the Wood Street Players and Cohea groups (which tend to overlap). He pulled cold-case murder files in those, rather than focusing more on drug arrests (which, presumably, is a big reason drug arrests were so low during his time there and that Barbour let him go). Then, in your inaugural speech, he mentioned the Wood Street Players by name and told them to get out of town. The WSP seem to be his biggest obsession, bar none. OK, if the WSP are as bad as they sound (and I'm not quesstioning that one way or the other), then attention makes sense. But that's where it really seems to fall apart. All his efforts have resulted in very little so far -- mostly dismissed cases, it seems, which cannot be tried again, at least for the same charge. So if he is muddling these cases, that is a *very* serious issue for the public to consider. And it doesn't really matter how much "passion" he is showing to get the guys. That's not, and never should have been, the issue.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-12T11:59:21-06:00
ID
121499
Comment

*his* inaugural speech ... I apologize for typos this a.m. I was up late doing research.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-12T12:00:10-06:00
ID
121500
Comment

Oh, and another issue to consider that several sources have brought up to me: Mr. Melton's conflicts of interest, and whether or not that has hurt his judgement. For instance, when you read the old stories about him "bringing in" some of these guys (like the one where Chief Moore was furious at him), he talks about how much they "trust" him and the like. And he makes it clear that he cares deeply about many of the young men -- which is fine, I believe, because they need people to care deeply about them and try to help them. But the question becomes: Should the man who they consider a "father figure," as Mr. Melton has called it before, be the person they turn themselves into (and make their first statements to that aren't admissible in court)? What mechanism is in place to make sure that his judgment isn't marred due to his own personal bias? I mean, you read about all those cases and how much effort he made to *cut out* the police, and it's mind-boggling that he wasn't challenged by the media and the community on this as he was doing it. I mean, it's one thing to help facilitate the surrender -- but then he should *not* be first contact with these young men. He should move out of the way and let the police do their job, and make sure the evidence, early statements and confessions aren't tained in any way. I suspect strongly that that is why the D.A. doesn't have better evidence in some of these cases, and that it's so easy for one witness simply to recant. And now, Mr. Melton wants to run the municipal court (along with Chief Anderson)? Regardless of the levels of corruption there, *that* makes little sense. He needs to focus on how to do his job in the executive branch, which he has far from done, and stay out of the judicial and legislative branches, as well as law enforcement. At the very least, it's a "spreading too thin" problem; at worst, it is a problem of his lack of judgement and accountability introducing serious problems throughout city government.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-12T12:07:33-06:00
ID
121501
Comment

When you really look at the things as they progress, you can't help but wonder where this is all headed. Melton is slowly but surely taking control of everything. He wants court services under the police department (which he already controls), he wants Civil Service which control the fate of the city employees. Give him time and he will control or have extreme influence over the judicial system. He is closing down adult entertainment unless they satisfy what HE thinks is okay. He is closing down motels along Highway 80, which at one time was very prosperous. We are losing businesses so fast it's hard to keep up with it. He criticizes the developers that are trying to improve things (Farish street, King Edward Hotel). He low-rates our neighboring cities (remember they are responsibile for the strip clubs breaking the law). Sighhhhhhhhh, I'm tired of writing now. The point is he is trying to make Jackson what HE wants it to be, not what we want it to be. His legacy will probably read something like: FRANK MELTON...ready, shoot, aim.

Author
lance
Date
2006-03-12T13:20:13-06:00
ID
121502
Comment

The point is he is trying to make Jackson what HE wants it to be, not what we want it to be. Good point, Lance. More and more people are talking about how he is trying to overhaul the city while people are focused on his daily shenanigans. But it's hard to imagine what he is trying to make it into, based on his actions. Perhaps a place where no one can criticize him? Where power is concentrated in very few hands, and run by him, Mr. Stokes, Mr. Tillman, Mr. Bluntson and Mr. Tisdale? I see still glimmers of hope from Mr. Stokes (although I know that's unpopular to say). He went with me and stood beside me Thursday when I went to see the city clerk to ask why they are not honoring so many of our open-records requests in a timely manner. And I believe he truly cares about the people of his ward. But he seems firmly ensconsed in Mr. Melton's world. Oh well. The irony is that people may start to miss the crazy old Stokes days, when they thought he was our worst problem. I just saw someone conservative write that ... where was it?!? I'm blanking. Anybody know where I saw that?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-12T13:29:22-06:00
ID
121503
Comment

BTW, it is City Council's responsibility to keep this extreme makeover from happening, and it's the people's responsibility to push them to do so. It's going to be extremely hard to turn back the clock once much of this is complete. And I would suggest to Mr. Melton's North Jackson supporters that they, too, need to be willing to think clearly about this. It's not as if their wishes are front and center in Mr. Melton's strategy, either. He told them what they wanted to hear, too. Bottom line: We need to put aside partisan differences -- like me and Doc Heddy on here -- and agree to stand together to keep our city together. Right now. Things are happening very quickly. Don't fiddle while Rome burns, folks. We can go back to having petty political squabbles when we've weathered this storm. But, right now, this ain't about partisanship. Never has been with Mr. Melton. That can be a very good thing, but sometimes -- like now -- it is not. Come together, people.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-12T13:34:56-06:00
ID
121504
Comment

Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson said she hadn't heard anything about computer records in Municipal Court being deleted. Seems that FM has been keeping the district attorney in the dark for a while now.

Author
malt
Date
2006-03-12T16:35:41-06:00
ID
121505
Comment

What twisted webs we weave when we practice to deceive?! Shakespeare and Carter, mostly Shakespeare though.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-03-15T14:45:05-06:00

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