BREAKING: Lawn Crew Owner Arrested Again | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

BREAKING: Lawn Crew Owner Arrested Again

Read JFP Melton Blog/Archive here.

A spokesman for the Hinds County Sheriff's Department confirmed that Frederica Brunson, 23, also known as Jermaine Butler, was arrested today for possession of a stolen automobile and contempt of court. Brunson, who owns the Wood Street Lawn Service, was last arrested Dec. 4, 2005, for armed robbery of the Headliners Barbershop near Wood Street. He was also arrested for rape in 2001.

Brunson's lawn service was financially seeded by Mayor Frank Melton, and the city has paid the service thousands for lawn cleanup over recent months.

Brunson told the JFP in March that he took over the service about nine months ago after its original owner, Michael Mayes, reneged on paying the workers. Mayes has since been "picked up" again by police, he said.

Brunson is very close to his mentor Frank Melton, whom he says he met when he was 10 or 11 at the Farish Street YMCA. "We were swimming down there; he helped us stay out of trouble," he said in an interview Tuesday. "Mr. Melton was the first person I ever seen trying to take young people out of the hood ... instead of hustling, to get a life." Brunson has lived in Melton's house in the past and still stays there now and then, he said in March.

He also joined Melton's bodyguards and other young people including his friend, Michael Taylor, when the group allegedly demolished the Ridgeway Street duplex in August, according to witnesses and, reportedly, cell and video images. Melton and his bodyguards Michael Recio and Marcus Wright face multiple felonies in that case, including directing a minor (Taylor) to commit a felony.

Witnesses say Brunson was also with the group later the same evening at the Upper Level nightclub, where they say he jumped off the Mobile Command Center and punched club manager Tonari Moore in the face while he was in handcuffs. Brunson said he has accompanied the mayor on the Mobile Command Center, but denied that he was there that night. "I wasn't there, period, that night," he said Tuesday.

Brunson was on probation after pleading guilty to simple robbery, drawing six years—three on paper and three suspended, as he put it. He said it was a minor crime—that he and Taylor saw pot in the shop and took it.

The sheriff's office arrested the two young men last June after TV cameras showed them at a Father's Day barbecue at Melton's home. District Attorney Faye Peterson told media then that she received a tip that two of the young men—Michael Taylor, then 16, and Brunson—were wanted for the armed robbery. Sure enough, they were already indicted, and had not shown up for the arraignment.

But when McMillin sent deputies to Pleasant Avenue, where the young men hang out, Melton showed up in his black Tahoe with his bodyguards and Taylor in the back seat. The mayor told deputies that he would "take care of it," as McMillin told the JFP this week, and then instructed the bodyguards to drive away with Taylor still in the SUV.

"(Melton) said he already knew about (the warrants) and drove off, leaving my deputies in the street," McMillin said Tuesday. He called Melton personally and told him the law required him to give up the young men.

"I might have made a mistake, and that's OK," Melton told The Clarion-Ledger later.

Just days before the drive-away, Melton had announced that he was helping seed the Wood Street Lawn and Cleaning Service with $5,000 of his own money and asking the city to give them equipment, as well as selling them confiscated trucks for $1 apiece.

Brunson said in March, however, that the city has never provided any equipment and complained that the city can take a month to pay his invoices. Melton originally bought them lawn mowers, he said, but they're gone. "Michael (Mayes) did what he did with it," he said.

Brunson is cousins with Jimmy "Wally" Butler, a reputed Wood Street Player who was killed outside The Birdland on Farish Street in 1997, allegedly by Johnny Hilliard of the Virden Addition. Brunson is also a cousin of Richard "Poo" Butler, who was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Keon Perry at Birdland on the two-year anniversary of Wally Butler's murder, which authorities believe was part of a string of retaliatory murders between Wood Street and Virden Addition drug dealers. While at the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Melton vowed to arrest the Wood Street men who allegedly killed Perry, and later Hilliard's brother Harry, and Aaron Crockett.

Brunson said in March that some friends and family don't like his friendship with Melton, whom they think is out to get them. "I don't let it come between me and Frank Melton," he said. Poo, he said, is not angry, though: "It don't be my cousin; he understands I'm trying to do something the right way."

Ward 6 Councilman Marshand Crisler has been concerned about Brunson's past and connections since last year. "Some members of that company have their history, and if there was ever a reason to pause before making a decision on the claims docket, that company is the most glaring example," he said in March. He emphasized that City Council "is responsible for what its contractors do." But Melton is telling council "not to worry, and we have to take their word for it," Crisler said.

"It was this (contractor) that raised a lot of questions," Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said in March. "I just want to know who we're doing business with. Are they legitimate? Are they on the up and up? I haven't been given any assurances, yet." She pointed to the fact that Melton "tried to hide" Taylor and Brunson as a dramatic red flag.

Melton told The Clarion-Ledger June 19, 2006, that the lawn crew kids were close to his heart: "I love these kids. I really love them." Brunson repeated the sentiment about Melton then: "It's love to me. It's love." However, in the June 29, 2006, story about the arrests, Melton backtracked: "I'm trying to get them off the streets. I don't really know any of them."

The JFP broke the story on Dec. 4, 2006, that Taylor had been arrested Nov. 18, 2006, for armed carjacking, three months after the duplex visit. Four days after the JFP's story and nearly three weeks after Taylor's arrest, Judge Swan Yerger revoked his bond for the December 2005 armed robbery. When he was arrested in November, Taylor gave his address as 2 Carter's Grove, Melton's home.

Much of this story was adapted from an earlier JFP story.

See this week's story on Michael Taylor, "Frank's Boy" here.

More details as they are available.

Previous Comments

ID
127227
Comment

Just in time for Melton's felony trial, one of the young men who was allegedly on the Mobile Command Center the night of the Ridgeway incident was arrested again. I am pretty much speechless.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-18T15:42:56-06:00
ID
127228
Comment

Here, I'll drop this older story here to give more background on Brunson. There are several other stories on the "JFP google" of Brunson and his background with Melton. I've got a question for the Meltonites and the NJam'ers out there... Do you think that the DA and Sheriff might know what they are talking about when it comes to Melton? The history of his "boyz" being arrested is long and colorful. Do you honestly think that just because he is mayor they are 'making' them continue committing crimes to make him look bad? Do you think that they may just be sick and tired of Melton and his criminal children? Do you not have a problem with Melton not allowing the Sheriff to arrest Brunson when they were trying to pick him up last year for a different crime? Do you like knowing your tax dollars are supporting criminals and criminal behavior by youths who hang with Melton?

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-18T15:49:11-06:00
ID
127229
Comment

"Frederica Brunson, 23, also known as Jermaine Butler" Wonder what his address is today? To quote other posters: "It Just Never Stops!" Guess this just proves that Amtrak goes both ways!

Author
ChrisCavanaugh
Date
2007-04-18T15:52:19-06:00
ID
127230
Comment

See Donna's profile of Michael Taylor here. What a band of merry-makers!

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-18T15:53:14-06:00
ID
127231
Comment

Yeah, I'm quite amazed that a few of the youths that were with Melton that night are escaping all of this. Isn't the story that tow of them were playing video games or something? What about the Russian who is now back in Russia. That's convenient! I bet the Sheriff's dept. has his email. Maybe, they could email him to give a statement. Ain't like he's going to be arrested!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-18T15:54:02-06:00
ID
127232
Comment

And let's not forget Christopher Walker, who uttered such choice words about District Attorney Faye Peterson last year, with Melton at his side. He was arrested this time for possession of contraband in jail--somebody caught him with some weed in lock up.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-18T15:58:23-06:00
ID
127233
Comment

And since I'm in such a linky mood, check out this week's editor's note, The Big Lie, or why Melton's crime fighting tactics don't reduce crime. Pardon the shameless self-promotion.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-18T16:01:44-06:00
ID
127234
Comment

I have an acute case of MFS (Melton Fatigue Syndrome)... i just keep wondering when it's going to stop, and then i realize that it's not going to until he's in jail or back in Texas. I might take off Monday and watch the trial. Should be interesting. Do we have any word on whether it will be televised or not? lc

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-18T16:04:05-06:00
ID
127235
Comment

Oh, Law Clerk....I can think of several things MFS might stand for! Love the new syndrome; we probably all have it. Believe Monday will just be jury selection but interesting anyway.

Author
ChrisCavanaugh
Date
2007-04-18T16:09:14-06:00
ID
127236
Comment

Although they never give us such credit, a tip of the hat to Goliath for breaking this story online. See how easy it is to give credit where it's due, you corporate boobs? Of course, they said Brunson was a "member" of the lawn service, not it's owner. They also said that he is 22, but he is 23. And they provide absolutely no context for understanding the story, not even the really sexy part about Brunson being on the MCC the night of the Ridgeway incident. Still, their post set me off to get indepedent confirmation from the sheriff. Try it some time, Goliath.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-18T16:13:19-06:00
ID
127237
Comment

At this point, there will be camera coverage, which I believe includes television. I could be wrong about this. However, there will be no camera coverage during certain parts of the trial. For instance, there will be no camera coverage during jury selection. Also, the court announced today that there will be no camera coverage whenever the judge is hearing arguments without the jury present.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-18T16:15:42-06:00
ID
127238
Comment

I'm not surprised to hear this. I'm so worried about the young men who pass through Mr. Melton's life. They are clearly in need and very much at-risk. But it's as if no one gives a damn about them once they enter Melton's world. Of course, it's not like most of the world cared about them before. But it is very possible that many of them are ending up worse off due to Melton's bizarre kind of mentoring. I remember talking to Mr. Brunson (in person and on the phone). I think he really thought he was doing something with the lawn service, although clearly it has been done completely wrong, thanks to Melton. I often wonder if crime is worse in Jackson due to Mr. Melton's "help" all these years. Just a thought.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-18T16:18:50-06:00
ID
127239
Comment

I also wonder if some of Melton's mentees do things to get his attention. Just more speculation, based on the interactions I saw up close and personal.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-18T16:20:44-06:00
ID
127240
Comment

WAPT mentioned the JFP in their report on Brunson's arrest. Cool.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-04-18T17:23:29-06:00
ID
127241
Comment

Brian: Why do you have to gild the lily of a perfectly good posting by referring to "corporate boobs?" It's so unattractive, and lessens the power of your posting. It also makes it difficult to believe your reporting when accompanied by this type of invective. What corporate boobs are you referring to: Pamela Anderson, Britney, General Electric, The Clarion-Ledger, perhaps? Regarding Frank and his boy-toys, we all know what has gone on for years. I liked the word "loony" in the CL's editorial today describing Frank's mayoral "style." BTW, what sex is the above-named "Frederica/Jermaine? Regarding Frank's defense, the list keeps growing and growing, going and going. Didn't know "character references" were part of a trial, rather than the sentencing portion. HDM Wonder what Dale Danks' bill will be in the end.

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2007-04-18T19:07:25-06:00
ID
127242
Comment

BTW, what sex is the above-named "Frederica/Jermaine? Male. Yeah, I know...I thought the same thing.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-04-18T20:46:42-06:00
ID
127243
Comment

Doc, obviously Brian is referring to The Clarion-Ledger. Brian's credibility is just fine. I can't imagine anyone, except maybe you, being bothered by him calling Goliath "corporate boobs." I'll second him on it. L.W., WAPT are good peeps. They credited our coverage of Brunson again at 10. Cheers to them. They are so far and above the best newscast in Jackson. Support 'em.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-18T21:42:43-06:00
ID
127244
Comment

Why on earth is a multiple offender like Brunson allowed to roam the streets in the first place? If he was on bond for carjacking and his bond was revoked how did he get out? The streets of Jackson aren't safe until this guy is behind bars.

Author
GLewis
Date
2007-04-18T21:53:09-06:00
ID
127245
Comment

Brunson wasn't out on bond for carjacking. He made a deal in the armed robbery charge. Taylor was arrested for armed carjacking, and the judge revoked his armed robbery bond. They were both out on bond in the robbery charge the night of Aug. 26 when they alleged helped the Melton entourage on Ridgeway Street and at the Upper Level. And they were wanted in the armed robbery charge when Melton wouldn't hand them over to the sheriff. I know. It's confusing.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-18T22:08:53-06:00
ID
127246
Comment

A flash back to the "incident" where Melton and his crew were confronted with warrants for the arrest of his "kids" The JFP and others are misquoting Melton. The actual thing Melton said to Hinds SO was "You don't have enough f***ing guns and enough f***ing men to arrest my boys. " Guess they did. Now his boys have more charges. Any wonder why Melton is backing Tyrone Lewis so hard. Then he could get a pass

Author
AGamm627
Date
2007-04-19T00:21:17-06:00
ID
127247
Comment

And the city want hire young men with clean records. just think a theif, rapist wrking in your neighborhood. Enough to give 0ne the chills. Maybe the young men without records are better off because all FM"s boys seem to be going back to jail. Waiting on Frank so they can priotect him? Food for thought since they love him so much. Maybe they see the hand writing on the wall and are going ahead to prepare the rest of the inmates for his arrival. How disgusting but maybe true. God help us all.

Author
jada
Date
2007-04-19T02:10:02-06:00
ID
127248
Comment

Just stopped myself from a tasteless joke. I know, surprise. if this is how you turn out when Melton loves you, maybe you are better off being hated by him. My question is how come he is never asked about any of his lads getting in trouble repeatedly that are under his supervision?

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-19T07:16:24-06:00
ID
127249
Comment

I think Melton's "lads" become worse criminals simply because they think Frank "has their back". It's like they have a continuous get out of jail free card, or Frank lets them think that anyway. Uncle Frank is the enabler for these kids' addiction to commiting crimes. ANY kid can get out of the hood if they want to. Get a GED, apply to the Jr. College, fill out your financial aid papers, there ya go. Of course this is only IMHO....but since I put myself through undergrad and grad school by working mostly restaurant jobs, I have no sympathy for anyone who thinks they are too poor to go to school. But one thing is for sure IMHO, get Melton out of MS, then these gangs won't have Uncle Frank to watch their backs, and maybe they will wind up in jail where they probably belong, or turn their lives around, or move to a city where they can get away with more crimes.

Author
Birdseye
Date
2007-04-19T09:28:18-06:00
ID
127250
Comment

not to mention the military although with Frank's kids brushes witht he law, often that will disqualify them for the military now.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-04-19T09:34:19-06:00
ID
127251
Comment

Good point. And I would be willing to bet if a kid wanted to straighten up his act, he could find a Jackson business that would be willing to sponser him to take the GED prep classes.

Author
Birdseye
Date
2007-04-19T09:46:47-06:00
ID
127252
Comment

I gather that the military is now so desperate that criminal histories are less an issue than they once were. Still, I believe felonies of the sort Brunson, Taylor and Walker have allegedly committed remain deal-breakers.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-19T10:41:09-06:00
ID
127253
Comment

I think Melton's "lads" become worse criminals simply because they think Frank "has their back". It's like they have a continuous get out of jail free card, or Frank lets them think that anyway. Uncle Frank is the enabler for these kids' addiction to commiting crimes. I do think that is true, whether Melton intentionally tries to send them that message or not.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-04-19T12:17:34-06:00
ID
127254
Comment

Bail money? ;-) Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-04-19T12:23:57-06:00
ID
127255
Comment

It is this entire mess that has me believing more and more the rumors I heard from a bud in the SO's Warrants div. and on the SWAT team back in '98. I tried not to repeat them b/c they were so far removed from what others said about Frank. Every bit of Frank news brings them back to mind. The city will be so much better off with (Hopefully) Frank outta here. -Chad

Author
Chad Moorer
Date
2007-04-19T12:38:46-06:00
ID
127256
Comment

Aw.. Just of of Franks boyfriends.....

Author
angiebee
Date
2007-04-20T12:37:44-06:00

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